Tim Nicholls' Dubai Story 1964-71

Tim's father, a Helicopter Engineer, and his family moved to Dubai in 1964 when Bristow Helicopters began operating from Dubai Creek to support of Dubai's new Oil operations. We went to Dubai in 1964. Their first apartment was close to Al Nasr Square within sight of Jashanmal's shop. In 1965 they returned to UK before again coming to Dubai in 1968, this time living at Apartment 10 Sheikh Ahmed Buildings on Deira Creekside with easy access to Deira and Dubai Creek. This remained their home until 1971. Tim recalls his childhood memories of Dubai...


Shopping was nearly all done at Spinney's near Jashanmals in Al Nasr Square. Spinneys later opened a supermarket at Jumeirah which we went to often. We also visited the Soukhs, Vegetable Market on Dubai side and the Fish Market (crossing Dubai Creek by Abra) as well as Dubai Lebanese Trading Company and Al Nasr Novelty Stores. I have a love for cameras and photography which began in visiting Dubai's camera shops. They always had the latest Japanese products. Jashanmals was a favourite of ours. Shareen Jashanmal went to our school and was in my brother's class. Our social life was marvelous! I recall going to many parties with Americans, British and Germans etc. Alcohol was available if you got a licence from Gray Mackenzie Shipping Agent. Jumeirah
We watched movies at an open air cinema run by Dubai Petroleum Company on Jumeirah Beach Road. I saw The Sound of Music, Fantasia, the Blue Max and Fraulein Doktor. One night there was a massive bang and the movie was stopped. A pick up truck had run into the back of a truck parked outside the cinema. I saw the passengers' legs and arms hanging over the side of the truck before my Mother dragged me away.

We also watched movies in the open air cinema at the Bustan Hotel (saw M*A*S*H* there). We occasionally went to an Indian cinema across the road from our apartment plus RAF Sharjah also had a cinema.
RAF Sharjah

Click Image to see Tim's Photos



Abras were a favourite of mine. I loved the smoky engines and the smell and sound they made. We used a rowing Abra but I always preferred the big wide Abras with the big engines. We had a company Landrover which I absolutely loved though the seats were unbelievably hot to sit on when it had been parked outside. We also had a white Peugeot and Dad bought a Ford Zephyr 4 which he had sprayed white to reflect the sun and keep it cool (no airconditioning in cars then). I loved the local taxis, Toyota Simcas with red interiors and plastic coverings to protect the seats and white walled tyres. We had many good times in Sharjah with the RAF. Our Cub Scout Pack once camped out there. RAF guys let us play in their Saladdin or Saracen armoured cars. We also used to go out in the desert at night time with food. I remember driving in a huge white Mercedes car with red leather seats owned by Gerhard Troche, one of the Bristow pilots who later became Sheikh Mohammed's personal pilot.

Tragedy on Dubai Creek 1964

Dubai Creek

Tim's Father and John, his friend and colleague, enjoyed relaxing in the sea at Jumeirah Beach and Dubai Creek. In 1964 Jumeirah Beach wasshallow for about 100 metres out and Dubai Creek still had beach like sandy banks in places although sea walls hade been installed at Creek Entrance in 1959. John couldn't swim but he would venture out into the water until it was chest high. One day he waded out into the water at the entrance to Dubai Creek. He became caught in a tidal rip and was swept out to sea. Tim's father attempted to rescue John but got into difficulties himself and had to be rescued then resuscitated by a Southern Drilling Company Oil Worker.


Tim's Father survived . John drowned. He was 21 years old.