We celebrate the fourth decade of the pearl of the Gulf
Time Out Dubai Staff
They say life starts at 40. Not so with the UAE. Since gaining independence from the British on December 2, 1971, a loose collective of nomadic tribes forged an alliance that triggered an unparalleled rise to prominence for a nation fuelled by oil and big ideas. Today, for all its purported excess (from huge man-made islands in the shape of palm trees to the world’s tallest building), it’s easy to forget that the UAE is not only a destination for unadulterated luxury and leisure, but a hub for trade and travel, a beacon of stability in an often turbulent region, and a vital bridge between Eastern and Western culture and customs. If there ever was a reason to celebrate a 40th anniversary, this is it.
This week we take a glimpse into Dubai’s past (when the city really was just a sandpit), talk to several generations of the same Emirati family about their experience of this young nation, and find out the best places to go to enjoy a sense of the UAE’s surprisingly rich history, as well as look at how it all started – thousands and thousands of years ago. Here’s to another 40 years.
The pictures above show the Deira Clock Tower, one of the city’s oldest landmarks, both now and 40 years ago. The focal point of Deira roundabout, the Clock Tower, was built by construction group Overseas AST in 1962 and still stands today. According to engineer Edgar Bublik of Overseas AST, HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Ali Bin Abdullah Al-Thani of Qatar gave Dubai ruler HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum a clock as a gift. Sheikh Rashid was unsure what to do with it, until Za’abeel Palace architect Ing Otto Bulard suggested incorporating it into a clock tower, which he designed. The tower was erected by a local builder, but in 1972 it was partially rebuilt because the beach sand used in the concrete had succumbed to Dubai’s harsh desert climate. The old Philips Building, located just behind the clock tower, is one of the few buildings still standing today. It is now the Embassy Suites.
Forty years on, the Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek (built in 2001 and renovated in 2009) dominate the area. Fountains splash beneath the clock, Downtown Dubai twinkles in the distance, and traffic is much, much worse.
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Mooshkni Nov 24, 2011 08:11 am
I think the story written here is not in fact what has happened! The region adopts Arabian alphabet at 1300 BC!??????????The first persian empire fell on 300 BC then the second at 651AD!!!!! Can you put references while you write historical data!!!!!