Christmas in Dubai 1971
We were a much smaller, more tightly knit community. We were Arabs and Europeans together. At Christmas time we would go to their houses and wish them a merry Christmas and, during Eid, they would come to ours. But of course, those days could not last. Now there are so many more Europeans, so many more people.
Then we were all much closer.
Khalifa bin Juma Al Naboodah (Khaleej Times 1981)
talking about life in Dubai in the late 1960s
Dubai's religious tolerance means Christian Churches such as the Holy Trinity Church and St Mary's Catholic Church are able to celebrate the religious significance of Christmas. Meanwhile Dubai's Traders have always seen Christmas as a time when Dubai's Christian population spend money and so the Traders too celebrate Christmas but in a commercial way! Children look forward to Christmas, often irrespective of religion and none more so than Dubai English Speaking School's pupils in 1970s. Their Christmas Party and meeting Father Christmas was a highlight of their scholastic year!
Reindeers do not live in Dubai
Joe owned a Father Christmas Suit complete with Christmas Sack. Joe loved playing Father Christmas. He always volunteered to be Father Christmas at DESS's Christmas Party. Joe was Swedish, a big man and every child's expectation of how Father Christmas should be. Reindeer and Sleigh Bells were not available in Dubai in 1970s! In past years Joe used his old LandRover to arrive at DESS. This year was different. FC was to arrive at DESS in a Helicopter.
But Joe still had to drive to Dubai Airport to board the helicopter. FC's DESS appearance was scheduled for after lunch. Joe enjoyed his lunch at his Jumeirah Beach Road home then fell asleep in his armchair. When he awoke, Joe realised he was late for his helicopter appointment at Dubai Airport. He quickly put on his Father Christmas Suit, stuck his white beard into place, picked up his FC sack, jumped into his old LandRover and sped off down an empty Jumeirah Beach Road heading for Dubai Airport.
Old LandRovers are Slow
Old LandRovers are slow - very slow. But Joe's old LandRover was traveling fast enough to be noticed by a Dubai Traffic Police Patrol Car. The Patrol Car gave chase. It was an uneven match. The Police were soon waiving Joe to stop at the side of the road. Joe started to explain what he was doing, where he was going and why. Police were unimpressed neither by Joe's explanation nor his FC attire. Father Christmas being late for his helicopter cut no ice with Dubai's Traffic Police! Joe had exceeded the speed limit (just) so he was due a Speeding Ticket. Joe sat patiently in his old LandRover as the Policeman filled out the Speeding Ticket. Finally Joe was handed the Speeding Ticket to sign which Joe did with a flourish. The Traffic Policeman was happy. Handshakes and smiles all round followed then Joe took off at undiminished speed, anxious to get to his helicopter and delivering his presents.