Sheikh Rashid's Unseen Oil 1966

In Dubai there are no obvious signs of its Oil Industry - no "Nodding Donkeys", Oil Derricks, Refineries, Tank Farms or any of the things that usually identify an Oil Town. Dubai's Oil is Offshore and out of public view. That presented Sheikh Rashid with a problem in 1966!

Photo by the Late Noor Rashid Ali

Noor Rashid Ali's iconic photo immediately conjures up an image of Dubai's newly found Oil flowing from the well, watched by Sheikh Rashid and his entourage. But all is not what it seems! There is a particular reason why and how this photo was taken and its purpose.

Dubai's Unseen Oil

Sheikh Rashid had long hoped for oil to be found in Dubai. The search for oil had been ongoing since 1937 both onshore and offshore. Abu Dhabi had discovered oil reserves on its territory in 1958 so Dubai was hopeful of doing the same. But that did not happen until 1966 when oil was unexpectedly discovered 15 miles offshore from Dubai.

That Dubai had discovered oil reserves was now a reality. But that reality existed 15 miles offshore. Dubai's people could not see any evidence of Dubai's oil. That concerned Sheikh Rashid. There had been many false reports of oil discovery in the past so Sheikh Rashid felt his people may not believe that oil had been really discovered. His people were sceptical about reports of oil discoveries. So Sheikh Rashid devised a plan to physically show that this oil really existed and so remove any doubts about Dubai's discovery.

Bringing Dubai's Offshore Oil Onshore.

A Sand Bund was constructed on the banks of Dubai Creek that could hold liquid. A barge loaded offshore with Dubai's Crude Oil at Dubai's Al Fateh Oil Field, then was towed from Al Fateh Oilfield to Dubai Creek to a mooring next to where the newly constructed Sand Bund. A pipeline connected the loaded barge to the Sand Bund. Sheikh Rashid and his entourage arrived and took their places around the Sand Bund. Noor Ali was there with his camera.

Sheikh Rashid gave the order. Oil was pumped from the barge into the Sand Bund. Sheikh Rashid's people could now see their newly discovered crude flowing. Their oil was real! The Late Noor Rashid Ali's camera captured this historic moment in his iconic photograph.

Sheikh Rashid cleverly demonstrated that Dubai's Oil was real and not another false alarm.

It was another 3 years before Dubai exported its first oil.