I first visited Abu Dhabi in 1980; there was construction everywhere and part of me wished I had been there 20 years earlier! The changes since then, though, have been enormous, and it is very hard to recognise any of what I experienced then in the modern city of today. As part of my ongoing project of digitising my slides from 30-40 years ago, I hope that the selection below captures something of the city as it was at that time: the juxtaposition of small new mosques with high-rise buildings; the contrasts between the greenness of the agricultural projects at Al Ain, and the urban concrete of Abu Dhabi city itself; the differences in wealth between local citizens and immigrant labourers who were mainly from South Asia; the belief that pumping oil could create cities, whereas pumping water from the underground aquifers could turn the desert green; the rather sleepy atmosphere that pervaded the place; the beauty and colours of the dhows on the blue, blue sea; the markets on the streets where one could buy everything from animals to all sorts of imported goods from containers; the mysteries of the suq…
11 responses to “Abu Dhabi in 1980”
Takes me back Tim. I worked there 79-80 seconded from Cable & WIreless to Emirtel. There was a pioneering spirit about, and what a life – rugby, water-skiing and picknicking on the sandbanks and camping out under the stars. When first went back a two years ago I could not even find the area where I used to live. I think though it has retained a spaciousness that Dubai has not or perhaps never had.
I worked for Ghurair Tarmac in Abu Dhabi between 1977 & 1980 and after a sticky few months initially, went on to thoroughly enjoy my time there. I went back last November for the Grand Prix and like Hugh could not find hardly anywhere I recognised. (Did see the Al Ain Palace hotel where we sometimes went swimming on a Friday).
I really think they have made a good job of developing Abu Dhabi and it has a feeling of being a proper Town, compared to the building site of Dubai.
Thanks so much for sharing your recollections Colin. Few people who visit today could even dream of what it was like then!
I’ve been living in UAE since 1971.
Do I have your permission to share some of your photos on a Facebook page? Not personyones but old Abu Dhabi buildings.
Thanks and regards.
Yes do. Apologies for not responding earlier – I had not seen your request. Do, please, just acknowledge the source as being me and you coukld provide a link to my posts.
May I share some of your photos on a nostalgic Facebook page for Abu Dhabi?
Yes of course. It would be kind if you could just mention that they are sourced from me! Do send me any links to your page so that I can also see what else you have been doing! Thanks
Hope you received my positive previous response
Just found your Blog Tim. I worked for British Airways in Abu Dhabi during the 1980’s, both at the old airport and at the (then) new airport. Great times and your terrific photos brought a lot of memories flooding back. Many thanks
Thanks Andrew – glad you appreciated the photos. How it has changed since those days! I only wish I had been there in the early 1970s!