Capt Arthur Jarman OBE

Captain Arthur Jarman became Port Rashid's first Port Manager in 1970 when Port Rashid comprised just one Berth.
Captain Jarman led the development of Port Rashid from an almost unknown General Cargo Port to a major Container Terminal with an international reputation within the space of 10 years. He went on to develop Dubai's first Container Repair Depot.

This is Captain Jarman's story.......

Capt Arthur Jarman OBE

Capt A Jarman: Master Mariner

Captain Arthur Jarman loved messing around in boats whether it was his beloved sailing yacht "Pippa", berthing a Super Tanker Port Rashid or (as in the photo) looking for a sunken workboat! Arthur went to sea as a Deck Cadet in the British Merchant Service and served as a Deck Officer before leaving the sea to join the East African Railways and Harbour Corporation Corporation. Arthur became a Senior Port Manager in Mombassa then returning to UK as Port Manager with Port of Blyth.

Around 1967 Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, then Ruler of Dubai, decided to use Dubai's newly found oil wealth to build a major new seaport - Port Rashid - as the means of developing Dubai as an international trade and commercial centre. But Sheikh Rashid did not believe in bureaucracies so wanted a commercial organisation to run his new port. He turned to Gray Mackenzie and Company who had, for many years, used their tugs and barges to move cargoes to and from ocean going ships anchored off Dubai. Sheikh Rashid awarded Gray Mackenzie & Co. a long term contract to manage Port Rashid.

Port Rashid's Start Up 1970

While Gray Mackenzie and their parent company Inchcape had extensive marine experience, they had little experience in managing and operating a major port. So Gray Mackenzie looked for suitable expertise outside their own organisation. Arthur was approached to become Port Rashid's first Port Manager and moved to Dubai to take up his post in 1970. Dubai Port Services was established as a wholly owned Gray Mackenzie Company for the sole purpose of managing, operating and developing Port Rashid. Arthur had the distinction of piloting the first vessel.

Arthur Jarman: His first Dubai visit in 1936

Dubai Creek Wharves 1970It was September 1936. I was a cadet on a British India Steam Navigation Company (B.I.) Training Ship which was on a round-the-world voyage. We anchored offshore, for there was no port, and cargo was loaded onto dhows and barges. It was my first sight of houses with wind towers. I still vividly remember the arrival of the pearling fleet with the crew chanting as they rowed. At that time, I never imagined that I would be spending some thirty years of my life in Dubai!
After the second world war, I returned to the Gulf, serving on various British India Steamship Company passenger ships that regularly called at Dubai.
Very little had changed. Passengers and cargo were still landed by launch and barges. My last ship was the Dumra in 1948 before joining the East African Harbours as a pilot based in Mombassa. In 1969, I left East African Harbours to work with Gray Mackenzie in Dubai. Gray Macs had been awarded the contract to manage Port Rashid, then under construction. George Chapman, General Manager of Gray Mackenzie introduced me to the then Ruler, H.H. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. It was a memorable occasion. I realised I was in the presence of an exceptional man. He decided I should work at the Port and Customs Department under Bill Duff, General Inspector of Port and Customs, and take over Creek operations until Port Rashid was available. Khalifa Juma AI Naboodah was to be my Advisor. Sirdhana berths at Port RashidI was very fortunate in having three such people to guide me in those early days, Nevil Allen, Civil Engineer with Sir William Halcrow and Partners, who helped make a feasibility study to open Dubai and Sharjah Creeks, kept me advised on the new port's construction. At that time, all seaborne traffic was handled on Dubai Creek wharves adjacent to the Ruler's Office.
A hand-driven crane still stands there - a mute testimony to the ancient times. Its operator was Mr Railboom who always took the crane handle home with him, producing it only when required. One particular section was known as the British India Steamship Company Shed and managed by Abdul Razzak (later to be chief Security Officer in Port Rashid). He inspected all baggage and cargo coming. One day, Razzak showed me a piece of baggage which had burst open. Inside were many silver rupees and silver objects. Sure that we had nabbed a smuggler, I rushed to report this to Bill Duff, only to be told there was no duty on gold or silver. But was there anything else? 'About five kilos of cardamom'. We charged the man a duty on the cardamom!
Port Rashid's first Berth became operational in September 1970. Sheikh Rashid issued instructions that a cement ship, the M.V. Surma, be the first ship to berth there. Despite a shamal blowing at that time, and unfinished breakwaters, the ship was berthed successfully. The Surma's Captain had the shore side of his ship painted. All the visitors were given wads of cotton waste to clean their hands as they left the ship. There was a lot of wet black paint on the gangway handrails!
First passenger ship to berth here was the M. V. Sirdhana which anchored on November 19, 1970. This marked a new chapter in the port's history. Port Rashid's formal opening ceremony was not held until 8.30pm as it was the holy month of Ramadan.

MV Sirdhana's Captain R.O. Cunningham's reported


Thursday, 19 November 1970, a day of great importance to Sirdhana. "D-Day" it might be called - with the "D' standing for Dubai - found us rounding Kachalu Rock and Tawakul Island at 0400 hours, pressing on to reach Dubai before noon as we had been requested to keep an appointment for the first time with the pilot at the Port of Dubai. This was a special day as the Sirdhana was to be the first 'Mail Ship' to berth alongside in Port Rashid, the new Port of Dubai. The Sirdhana was dressed overall for arrival, and our pilot, Captain Jarman , who will be remembered by many for his years of service as pilot in East Africa, boarded off a Dubai anchorage buoy from a tug similarly bedecked with flags for the occasion, a fitting occasion indeed for the first B & I Ship to be berthed in the new jetty by a ex-B & I man (Arthur had sailed with this company as a Cadet and Officer, leaving in 1948) whose last sea-going appointment was M. V. Dumra and is now the Port Manager of Port Rashid. At 1900 hours the Dubai Police Band boarded MV Sirdhana and settled themselves on the after-end of the Promenade Deck to play "A Life on the Ocean Wave".
Sirdhana berths at Port Rashid

Captain Arthur James Jarman, OBE - 10 Jan 1918 – 10 Mar 2008 (Cape Town)