Meg Twycross' Dubai Story 1963-64

We lived in a top floor apartment in Deira above Dubai Petroleum Company's Office. DPC flew a Dubai Flag on the roof which they raised every morning and lowered every evening. From our balcony we could see across Dubai Creek to Gray Mackenzie and Co. original office and to the National Bank of Dubai.

Dubai was a great place, and as you can see from my photographs, very beautiful.

Dubaiside had cluster of Windtowers which always reminded me of my home town Oxford. Windtowers were the same colour as Cotswold Stone and had a similar silhouette to the Oxford Colleges.

My then husband worked for Shell Markets Middle East (their main office was in Doha).

I once had the privilege of riding from Sharjah to Dubai in the back of a LandRover on top crates full of ten-tola gold bars, along with a man with a rifle!

We were selling oil to the Arabs, which most people now consider a riotously funny concept. We actually spent most of our time trying to outwit BP, a much bigger outfit. From our balcony, we looked across Deira's Windtowers towards Creek entrance and the anchorage. Ships anchored outside in the Gulf to discharge their cargoes into Lighters or Barges to be towed into Dubai Creek and unloaded. We had telescope on the balcony to see what was being unloaded. If it was anything mechanical, we'd rush off to the Importers with suggestions as to the lubricating oil they might like to buy from us to keep it going!
Seismologists were around creating their mini-earthquakes searching for oil.

Sheikh Rashid made a point of being universally available.

I don't think they had come up with anything really solid yet, though it looked promising. The Austrian/Kuwaitis company Overseas AST Company were making a start on [deepening] the harbour. Dubai was a great place, and as you can see from my photographs, very beautiful. Also prosperous then even without the aid of oil, mainly through trade, and, of course, gold-running to India. Hence the large number of Creekside Banks, and disproportionate number of youthful Bankers. Dubai's Gold was flown into Sharjah; So much gold that I don't think Dubai Airport's runway would have taken the weight.
We saw Sheikh Rashid returning from an overseas trip at Dubai Airport. Everyone rushed up to greet and embrace him. This could be quite dangerous when an enthusiastic aged tribesman had a very aged and insecure rifle slung over his shoulder! Fortunately no-one ever put out his eye or accidentally blew his head off, though several times watching it my husband and I winced together! Sheikh Rashid made a point of being universally available.

Most of my photos are either from our Deira Apartment or from an abra crossing the Creek. To my regret, I never got a photo of the [British Political] Agency launch ferrying the Political Agent (James Craig) out to a formal reception on one of the warships which anchored off Dubai. He used to stand in the launch's stern wearing full ceremonial dress complete with a Horatio Hornblower-type hat with white plumes!

Meg Twycross

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