Welcoming Tourists to Dubai 1980's Style!
Organised Tourist Groups visiting Dubai were rarities in 1970 and 80s. In 1980 a group of New Zealand Tourists, led by the Bishop of Auckland, flew from Auckland NZ to Dubai enroute to Cairo. They had a day's stopover in Dubai. DNATA organised a tour of Dubai for the Group even though it was the middle of Ramadhan. Each Tourist was given a Letter by DNATA explaining their itinerary for the day.
What follows is a reproduction of that DNATA Letter which was preserved by one of those Tourists...
30 July 1980
Welcome to Dubai . Despite the limited time you have here, I hope you will enjoy your visit . This morning we will take you on a short tour, during which you will see a variety of aspects of life here . The town centres around the Creek which forms both its commercial and visual heart ; in fact the Creek is the reason for the existence of the town and still plays a vital part in its economy - despite the recent building of fine deep water harbours . For those who do not find the heat too oppressive, there will be an opportunity to cross the creek on a small water taxi, which will give you a unique view of the city . You will also see the Museum, which is housed in a 150 year old fort . Of particular interest is the pearling equipment - pearling was the mainstay of Dubai's economy until the 1930's and the introduction by the Japanese of the cultured pearl . At one time over 7000 men were involved in the industry . The model of a windtower in the courtyard is also worth examining since it well displays how this early form of airconditioning works .
The Bastakia district of old houses is the original merchants area , and windtowers form an important part of the architecture here . You will note that the decorative motifs on the towers are all different, each family favouring its own particular design . Again subject to your tolerance to the heat, there will be an opportunity to explore the gold souk . Gold is, both historically and currently, an important part of the economy, and it is no secret that many fortunes , have been made (and a few lost) in the once thriving 're-export' trade of the metal, much of which was destined to be smuggled by dhow onto lonely beaches and coves on the Arabian Sea coast of India . All perfectly legal so far as Dubai was concerned .
You will also see some fine modern architecture as your journey round the city, and while it is easy to consider this is all being a result of oil this is not totally the case. Whilst oil revenues have, obviously, enabled the major projects to be undertaken , Dubai's prosperity is based primarily on trade and it is to this end that much of the oil money has been spent, in order that the prosperity may continue even after the oil is gone.
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Of particular architectural interest are the mosques, for here modern techniques have formed a happy association with traditional styles . The Muslim faith is central to the whole way of life of its adherents, forming, as it does, a code by which every aspect of the believer's existence is laid down . Too big a subject to discuss in this short note, we regret, but the mosques , big or small, modern or old, are dotted everywhere and give an idea of the importance of the faith in everyday life . One final point, if we may . It is unfortunate that your journey brings you here at the hottest time of year, and it is doubly so that it also coincides with the Holy month of Ramadan . We are, however, most fortunate that in Dubai there is a degree of religious tolerance that is generous in the extreme - complete freedom of worship is permitted (indeed Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai personally donated land for churches to be built) . rightheless, during Ramadan, Muslims are expected to fast from sunrise to sunset and it is requested that non-muslims refrain from drinking, eating and smoking in public . This does not apply to hotels or restaurants, but, obviously, it would be discourteous to indulge in refreshment outside these areas . After your tour round town , we shall be taking you to a hotel where refreshments will be available but we would ask you forbearance in the meantime . Should anybody find the heat really too uncomfortable ( and we do understand that those unaclimatised to it may do so) please inform your guide , who will be pleased to arrange a taxi to take you to the hotel where the rest of the party will catch you up .
Again , may we wish you welcome to Dubai .
BOB MILNE HOME