To old Abu Dhabians, seas were sources of wealth and lives. They relied on the waters for businesses and to communicate with the modernized world. But now, oil has ended centuries of Arabian isolation, it induced a revolution that affected …

#5 Abu Dhabi as an INSTANT CITY Part 4 – Abu Dhabians as Property Developers Read more »

When David Riley went to Abu Dhabi to oversee a mobile banking service for local workers in 1962, he brought along with him a 35 millimetre German Voigtländer, with which he shot a colourful series of photographs.  This series of …

David Riley’s Story: Pre-Development Abu Dhabi in 1963 Read more »

The Long-Anticipated Change In the summer of 1963, a royal wedding took place in Buraimi, and hundreds of guests from neighbouring states attended.  Despite the intense heat, dancing continued day and night.  Camel and horse races occupied the guests who …

Abu Dhabi as an INSTANT CITY Part 2 – Torn Between Bedouin Lifestyle and Modernity Read more »

In the 1960s, Shakhbut’s global reputation declined as the Western press openly criticized his incompetence as a ruler, which was inevitably highlighted by the comparison with Abu Dhabi’s prosperous neighbour Dubai.  Shakhbut was troubled by this negative publicity but took …

Transition of Power in 1966 (Part 3) – Falling Out with the Ruling Family Read more »

When Sheikh Shakhbut first agreed to the British Petroleum’s offer to search for oil in the 1950s, he had prayed five times each day that this underground fortune would be found to bring prosperity to the windswept shore that was …

Transition of Power in 1966 (Part 2) – Falling Out with the British Government Read more »

The current Dubai

The development of Dubai had resulted in the segregation of classes, mostly between local Arabs and immigrants who forms the majority of workforce in the real estate development. The image as portrayed by Dubai as a land for millionaires represents …

Instant City: Dubai’s Social Disintegration Read more »