Jebel Ali Communication 1960s

Internet, Emails and SMSs with worldwide contacts are an accepted and expected part of life in modern Dubai. 50 years ago Dubai had very limited means of connecting with the outside world. Only Telex and "Snail Mail" were available. Other Gulf States were in the same situation. Satellite Communication was in its infancy so Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain looked to a Troposcatter based technology to deliver their communications needs.

How Troposcatter Communications work

The Troposphere exists at 10,000 meters above the Earth. At that point the atmosphere density varies irregularly. When radio waves are beamed into this atmosphere, a few are reflected back to Earth. Large fixed Dish Aerials collect these scattered and weak returning radio signals. Troposcatter Communications Systems use this phenomena to transmit communications over long distances since transmission is not impeded by the Earth's curvature.

Dubai goes Troposcatter!!!

Sheikh Rashid appointed the British Telecommunications Company Marconi (now part of Ericssons) to construct a Communications Station and Cable and Wireless to operate the service. Jebel Ali was the chosen site. Communications Station needed to be on high ground. Jebel Ali was the only high ground in Dubai. (Jebel means "mountain or hill" in Arabic). Work began in 1968 with Overseas AST carrying out the construction. Dubai's first Communications Station was commissioned in 1970, providing telecommunication links to the outside world for the first time. But the system was antiquated by modern day standards. Anyone wanting to telephone overseas had to call the Operator and book a call often 24 hours ahead of the call. The Operator called back at the booked time and made the connection. There was no guarantee the Operator would call back at the booked time or the telephone connection would be reliable.

Within a couple of years Sheikh Rashid had ordered a new Satellite Communications System to be installed. Troposcatter System became redundant and was removed.

The Road to Jebel Ali

Jebel Ali was a remote area until the late 1960s with no road access or habitation in the area. Building the Troposcatter Station necessitated building an access road and providing accommodation for construction workers and operating staff. Access road was initially a graded track but later developed into a road. This access road eventually became the basis for the road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi which enabled Jebel Ali Village to develop when work began on Jebel Ali Port.


  • JARS1
    Digging Foundations
  • JARS2
    Digging Foundations
  • JARS4
    Administrative Building under Construction
  • JARS5
    Support Buildings
  • JARS6
    Administrative Buildings
  • JARS7
    Troposcatter Aerial Base
  • JARS8
    Operations Building
  • JARS9
    Aerial View of Troposcatter Station
  • JAMSAerial
    Modern Satellite Tracking Station that replaced Troposcatter Station