Malcolm Jones: Life in Dubai 1957

Malcolm Jones lived and worked in Dubai in 1950s and 60s. He had been a Bank Trainee in The British Bank of the Middle East (now HSBC) London office for nearly two years before he left England for Dubai on 7 November 1957 to join BBME in Dubai.
This is Malcolm's story and photos from his time in Dubai as it used to be........

Heading for Dubai 1957

At 20 years of age, I was the second youngest Trainee to be posted to the Middle East since the end of Second World War! Normally you had to be 21! I flew on the old Britannia aircraft via Damascus to Bahrain, spent a few hours at Bahrain Airport before flying to Sharjah! My goodness, what an experience for anyone at that age?!!
I stayed at BBME's building on Dubaiside located on the edge of Dubai Creek. My bedroom was on the corner overlooking the Creek. On my second night everyone was very rudely awoken by hearing very strong winds, rain and much shouting from outside. The Bank's electricity generator stopped. We were experiencing a massive cyclone! Dhows were washed way up the Creek and much damage caused. The Souq was totally awash!!
BBME's building was on Dubai Creek's edge in 1957. Now it is a considerable distance from Dubai Creek after 1970s reclamation works.
  • BBME's building was on Dubai Creek's edge in 1957. Now it is a considerable distance from Dubai Creek after 1970s reclamation works.

21st Birthday in Dubai 1958

On British Bank of the Middle East's balcony of Col Kelly (Manager BBME) celebrating my 21st birthday July 1958!! Left to right sitting Jack Warner of International Aeradio Ltd.,Dr Desmond McCaully. Standing James Commins of newly formed Eastern Bank Sharjah (later bought by Standard Chartered Bank), George Davey BBME and myself!! Sitting Alastair Macaskill, Gray Mackenzie & Co. (now MMI) and Neville Green,Manager Eastern Bank.

COMMENT:- IAL originally operated Dubai's overseas telecommunications system. Dr Desmond McCaully was in charge of Al Maktoum Hospital - Dubai's first Hospital. Expatriate social life was slower paced and more formal. The men are dressed in "Red Sea Rig", originally a naval uniform worn after a ship sailed from the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. "Red Sea Rig" involved dispensing with a uniform jacket and tie but wearing uniform trousers, a cummerbund and an open necked uniform shirt. "Red Sea Rig" supposedly enabled the Wearer to cope with Red Sea's heat and humidity. A "stiff upper lip" was still needed to "stay cool"! - Note the pint mugs of beer!

Friday in Sharjah 1950s

Mouth of Khan Creek Sharjah, 1958 where we often went on Fridays. Some of the RAF Officers (from UK's Sharjah Airbase) would also join us. This was a great spot! There was a deep lagoon so we took our own builders plank, drove Landrover wheels over the end to keep it firm in the sand and "Viola"! We had diving board!! The nearest Landrover belonged to Colonel Peter Lorimer, Dubai Police Chief. The other Landrover belonged to the BBME.

COMMENT:- Dubai's Banks were always well equipped! Individual expatriates will not have been able to purchase Landrovers due to scarcity of supply and cost. But why buy when your Employer can provide the use of a Landrover? But why Sharjah? Hard to say! Dubai has almost unlimited beaches in the 1950s and 60s but a Landrover was needed to access them.

Dubai Souq 1958

Malcolm took this photo
Malcolm took this photo

COMMENT:- A 1950s Dubai Shopping Mall! No airconditioning, just palm fronds to keep out the sun! Today this is called Dubai Soukh. Malcolm refers to this as Gray Mackenzie's Soukh because in the 1950s and early 1960s Gray Mackenzie's Manager and Office were housed in Biat Al Wakheel building located in this Soukh. Biat Al Wakheel was Dubai's first office building and is now a museum and restaurant.