One Million Containers at Dubai's Ports.

1991 Dubai Government merged Port Rashid Authority and Jebel Ali Port Authority into the new Dubai Ports Authority and made DPA responsible for operating these Ports as a single Port. That merger coincided with the one million shipping container handled at these ports since Port Rashid Container Terminal opened in 1976. This milestone became a theme for a marketing event to celebrate the Ports' merger and achieving one million container throughput. Port Rashid contributed 90% of the total throughput. Berth 5 was set up as a stage with temporary tiered seating on three sides.

Celebration at Port Rashid 1st December 1991

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum attended together with many of Dubai's dignitaries and Ports' Customers and Staff. The event had come about by chance. Newly formed Dubai Ports Authority wanted to celebrate their one millionth container being handled by Dubai Ports but were not sure how! Coincidentally UK's Royal Navy's Marines Band was on a regional "Goodwill" Tour. Idea quickly formed around having the Royal Marine Band as the feature of an evening celebration.

Highlight was to be the Royal Marines Band making a dramatic entrance by marching out of a 40 foot long Shipping Container which was painted bright white with "1 Million Containers" emblazoned on its side. Plan was to have The Royal Marine Band to enter the Container "off stage", the Container towed "On Stage" at Berth 5 where the Marines Band would make their dramatic entrance by marching out of the Container.

A Royal Marine Band in a Box

Preparations went to plan! Royal Marine Band took up position inside the Container off stage, ready to be towed onto stage as soon as the Dignatories had taken their seats and opening announcement made. Dubai's Events rarely started on time back then. This event was no different. The crowd had assembled, Dignitaries seated - but Sheikh Mohammed and his people had not - so we waited - and waited. So did the Royal Marine Band - inside the 40 foot container.

Marine Band nearly asphyxiated inside Shipping Container

For the waiting crowd it was a pleasantl war Dubai evening. For the Marines Band inside the closed 40 foot Container it wasn't - far from it! Shipping Containers are not built to house 20 or more Musicians in full uniform. There is no ventilation and no lighting. These Musicians began to feel the increasing heat and decreasing amount of fresh air in this confined space. Finally the last Sheikh Mohammed and his people arrived. The event could start. But before the highlight of the evening, there were prayers and speeches.

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    Sheikh Mohammed arrives for the Celebration
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    Opening Speeches
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    Royal Marine Band marches out of container - eventually
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    Royal Marines Band performing in front of Sheikh Mohammed
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    Finale to Celebration of On Million Containers handled by Dubai's Ports
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    Sheikh Mohammed about to depart the event
Finally the "1 Millionth Container" was towed onto the "stage", with the increasingly suffocated Royal Marines Band inside. Te container doors opened - nothing happened! No marching band blasting its way out of the Container - just silence. Inside the Container, the Royal Marine Bandsmen were blinded by the sudden bright light as the doors opened at the same time desperately filling their lungs with welcomed cool fresh night air. They were in no condition to perform! Slowly the Band regained their composure, their breath, their senses and their ability to both march and play music. After what seemed a never ending silence, the Royal Marine Band played their way out of the container onto the Berth 5 Stage. Sheikh Mohammed watched and listened to the Band and speeches before the grand fireworks finale brought the evening to an end.