Today Dubai's Clock Tower is another traffic roundabout that Dubai's increasing traffic has to negotiate. It is rarely looked at, seldom visited and hardly ever touched!. Yet the Clock Tower is Dubai's oldest Monument built over 40 years ago. But why the Clock Tower was built and who ordered it to be built?
Engineer Edgar Bublik was General Manager of Overseas AST in Dubai in the 1970s. He explains the background to Dubai's Clock Tower...
Sheikh Ahmed of Qatar was Sheikh Rashid's Son-in-Law. In the early 1960s Sheikh Ahmed gave Sheikh Rashid a Clock as a Gift. It was a very large Clock. Sheikh Rashid did not know what to do with such a large Clock! My predecessor Mr Bulard had just completed building Zabeel Palace for Sheikh Rashid so he made a sketch of his idea for a Clock Tower. Mr Bulard gave the sketch to his Engineer to make the structural calculations and produce a design. The shape and design of the Clock Tower was from Mr Bulard's own ideas and did not represent an Oil Drilling Bit or any other object.
In the early 1960s the area where the Clock Tower is located today had become an important road intersection so Mr Bulard suggested this as a suitable location for the Clock Tower. He also suggested the Clock Tower be placed on a traffic roundabout to protect the Tower. This was one of the first roundabouts in Dubai. Mr Bulard did not build the Clock Tower. That was done by a local Builder.
It is possible that Sheikh Ahmed gave Sheikh Rashid such a large Clock because a Clock Tower had been built in Doha around the same time. But Doha's Clock Tower was not very attractive.
A view has developed that Diera Clock Tower is the proper name since the Tower is located in Diera. This view ignores the fact Sheikh Rashid was presented with the Clock as the Ruler of Dubai i.e. it was a gift to the Emirate of Dubai and not the "suburb" of Diera. The Clock Tower's location in Diera was chosen because it was (in those days) an important access point to Dubai and the first significant structure seen by travellers and traders arriving overland.
Dubai's Clock Tower may be a more "correct" description but generally people simply refer to the Clock Tower.
The local builder who constructed Dubai's Clock Tower around 1964 used unwashed beach sand for the concrete, a common practice in Dubai in those days. Beach sand contains salt and allows water to find its way through the concrete which starts to corrode the reinforcing steel. Corrosion cracks the concrete and the structure begins to deteriorate. This is commonly called "concrete cancer". The Clock Tower began to crack and disintegrate and by 1972 urgent repairs were necessary. Overseas AST was given the task to refurbish the Clock Tower removing defective material and encasing the complete structure in a new "skin". The Clock was refurbished (said to have been Seiko who did the work) and the Clock Tower restored to its former glory.