Malcolm Jones lived and worked in Dubai in 1950s and 60s. These are some of his photos and his story.
I left England for Dubai on 7 November 1957 to join The British Bank of the Middle East (now HSBC) in Dubai. I had been a Bank Trainee in BBME's London office for nearly two years. At 20 years of age, I was the second youngest Trainee to be posted to the Middle East since the end of Second World War! Normally you had to be 21! I flew on the old Britannia aircraft via Damascus to Bahrain, spent a few hours at Bahrain Airport before flying to Sharjah! My goodness, what an experience for anyone at that age?!! I stayed at BBME's building on Dubaiside located on the edge of Dubai Creek. My bedroom was on the corner overlooking the Creek. On my second night everyone was very rudely awoken by hearing very strong winds, rain and much shouting from outside. The Bank's electricity generator stopped. We were experiencing a massive cyclone! Dhows were washed way up the Creek and much damage caused. The Souq was totally awash!!More about Dubai's Weather here
Malcolm Jones's Photo taken from BBME Building of Dubai Creek 1957
Dubai Creek was a busy centre of trade in the 1950s and 60s. Dhows from India, the Gulf Countries, Oman and East Africa used Dubai's Creek to discharge and load their cargoes. BBME's building was on the edge of Dubai Creek in 1957. This building is now a considerable distance from the Creek as a result of reclamation works in the 1970s.
Looking up the Creek towards Customs Wharves. Malcolm Jones's photo taken from BBME Building roof early 1958
Windtowers form Dubai's skyline extending to the edge of the Creek. Dubai had waterfront property long before new Dubai's current move to commercialise waterfront property! All of these Windtowers have been replaced by modern buildings. Photo taken before Dubai Creek underwent deepening and land reclamation.
On British Bank of the Middle East's balcony of Col Kelly (Manager BBME) celebrating my 21st birthday July 1958!! Left to right sitting Jack Warner of International Aeradio Ltd.,Dr Desmond McCaully. Standing James Commins of newly formed Eastern Bank Sharjah (later bought by Standard Chartered Bank), George Davey BBME and myself!! Sitting Alastair Macaskill, Gray Mackenzie & Co. (now MMI) and Neville Green,Manager Eastern Bank.
IAL originally operated Dubai's overseas telecommunications system. Dr Desmond McCaully was in charge of Al Maktoum Hospital - Dubai's first Hospital. Expatriate social life was slower paced and more formal. The men are dressed in "Red Sea Rig", originally a naval uniform worn after a ship sailed from the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. "Red Sea Rig" involved dispensing with a uniform jacket and tie but wearing uniform trousers, a cummerbund and an open necked uniform shirt. "Red Sea Rig" supposedly enabled the Wearer to cope with Red Sea's heat and humidity. A "stiff upper lip" was still needed to "stay cool"! - Note the pint mugs of beer!
Mouth of Khan Creek Sharjah, 1958 where we often went on Fridays. Some of the RAF Officers (from UK's Sharjah Airbase) would also join us. This was a great spot! There was a deep lagoon so we took our own builders plank, drove Landrover wheels over the end to keep it firm in the sand and voila! We had diving board!! The nearest Landrover belonged to Colonel Peter Lorimer, Dubai Police Chief. The other Landrover belonged to the BBME.
Dubai's Banks were always well equipped! Individual expatriates will not have been able to purchase Landrovers due to scarcity of supply and cost. But why buy when your Employer can provide the use of a Landrover? But why Sharjah? Hard to say! Dubai has almost unlimited beaches in the 1950s and 60s but a Landrover was needed to access them.
Malcolm took this picture from outside the Souq entrance of Gray Mackenzie mid 1958.
A 1950s Dubai Shopping Mall! No airconditiong, just palm fronds to keep out the sun! Today this is called Dubai Soukh. Malcolm refers to this as Gray Mackenzie's Soukh because in the 1950s and early 1960s Gray Mackenzie's Manager and Office were housed in Biat Al Wakheel building located in this Soukh. Biat Al Wakheel was Dubai's first office building and is now a museum and restaurant.