Dubai Country Club 1969.
Dubai's Oil had been discovered. Dubai's European population grew as Construction Companies, Oil Field Operators, Engineers and others moved to Dubai. Then Dubai had few Hotels, a couple of Cinemas and a scattering of Restaurants. European Expatriates had nowhere to meet and socialise.
Tony Higham (on photo's right) of African & Eastern Est. first presented the idea of a Club at a meeting attended by just 150 Expatriates. They agreed to ask Sheikh Rashid for a land grant. There was a precedent. Sheikh Rashid previously granted land for The Indian Club in 1964. Arthur Jarman (photo centre) obtained support from prominent local businessman Khalifa bin Juma Al Naboodah. Six Expatriates and Mr Naboodah submitted a document requesting land to Sheikh Rashid. He agreed to their request. Expectation was the land would be next to Al Maktoum Bridge (where the Customs Dhow Wharves are today). But Sheikh Rashid granted land in Ras Al Khor area at the head of Dubai Creek. In 1969 terms Ras Al Khor was a remote area! Only access was a gravel road used by huge Trucks to carry rock for Port Rashid's construction! These trucks operated day and night. The road was very dangerous.
Outside the DCC Clubhouse was a well established tree. A story developed that this tree had been a favourite picnic tree for Expatriate families. Story was embellished to become 5 men sitting in the shade of this tree dreaming of a building a Club. This dream turned into reality when Sheikh Rashid gave the land around the tree. This story is romantic but not true! Reality was lack of roads and scarcity of 4WD vehicles in 1969 will have meant few Expatriates visited this area prior to the land grant.
Building the Dubai Country Club
DCC grew primarily from a wish for a golf course in Dubai. British RAF built the first sand golf course in Sharjah.This was a long commute for Dubai Expatriates. Another golf course had been built near Satwa but it was small and poorly maintained. The "Vision" was for new Golf Course and Clubhouse. That required money! 150 "Members" each contributed Dhs 500 - a large sum in 1969 - but that was insufficient to equip the Club. Commercial Bank of Dubai's local Manager was approached for an unsecured loan. Surprisingly he approved a DHS 20,000 unsecured loan. Commercial Bank transferred the Manager soon after! Head Office was not happy with his decision. The Bank then insisted on a permanent Club Committee Seat so they could "keep an eye" on their investment.
The simple Clubhouse comprising a small bar and an even smaller kitchen. Members themselves built a nine hole sand Golf Course using equipment borrowed free of charge from Construction Companies. A basic 9 hole Golf Course was carved out of the desert surrounding the Clubhouse. More about DCC's Sand Golf Course here >>>. Club access remained a major problem. Members drove across sand to get to the Club. Cars frequently bogged down in the soft sand. Problem was solved when Sheikh Rashid generously ordered a road to be built to the Club.
Dubai Country Club formally opened on 31st March 1971 and soon began to attract new Members. The Golf Course proved a major attraction particularly when Dubai's summer arrived. Dubai's lack of facilities meant most European families elected to return to their home countries for the four month summer period. Husbands remained in Dubai. For the four summer months Dubai's Expatriate population became "Men Only"! DCC's Golf Course attracted these "single" men. Friday Golf Competitions offered social contact plus the prospect of spending time at the bar without any pressing need to get home. DCC's Membership trebled by the end of the first year and continued to grow.
1975: Golf at Dubai Country Club Photo by B.C.Biega
Signatories to DCC Decree
- Khalifa bin Juma Al Naboodah
- F.M.C. Borrodaile
- K.L. Broderick
- P.A. Goodwin
- R. Blackburn
- C. Batts
- Mrs T. Old
People cannot believe it now, but there was not the money then. That is why I am very grateful and have happy memories of those people who worked to develop the club in the early days. It was hard work.
Khalifa bin Juma Al Naboodah (DCC Founder Member) 1981
Next DCC Story: The Early Years >>>>