Dubai's Telecommunications as it was in 1960s!
Internet, Emails and SMSs with worldwide contacts are an accepted and expected part of life in modern Dubai. 50 years ago Dubai had very limited means of connecting with the outside world. Only Telex and "Snail Mail" were available. Other Gulf States were in the same situation. Satellite Communication was in its infancy so Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain looked to a Troposcatter based technology to deliver their communications needs.
The Troposphere exists at 10,000 meters above the Earth. At that point the atmosphere density varies irregularly. When radio waves are beamed into this atmosphere, a few are reflected back to Earth. Large fixed Dish Aerials collect these scattered and weak returning radio signals. Troposcatter Communications Systems use this phenomena to transmit communications over long distances since transmission is not impeded by the Earth's curvature.
Dubai goes Troposcatter!!!
Sheikh Rashid appointed the British Telecommunications Company Marconi (now part of Ericssons) to construct a Communications Station and Cable and Wireless to operate the service. Jebel Ali was the chosen site. Communications Station needed to be on high ground. Jebel Ali was the only high ground in Dubai. (Jebel means "mountain or hill" in Arabic). Work began in 1968 with Overseas AST carrying out the construction. Dubai's first Communications Station was commissioned in 1970, providing telecommunication links to the outside world for the first time. But the system was antiquated by modern day standards. Anyone wanting to telephone overseas had to call the Operator and book a call. The Operator called back at the booked time and made the connection. There was no guarantee the Operator would call back at the booked time or the telephone connection would be reliable. Within a couple of years Sheikh Rashid had ordered a new Satellite Communications System to be installed. The Troposcatter System became redundant and was eventually removed.
Impact of Jebel Ali Communications System
Jebel Ali was a remote area until the late 1960s. There was no road access or habitation in the area. Building the Station necessitated building an access road and providing accommodation for the construction workers and operating staff. Access "road" was initially a graded track but later developed into a road. Eventually the access road became the basis for a road to Abu Dhabi which enabled Jebel Ali Village to develop when work began on Jebel Ali Port.
Construction Photos of Jebel Ali Troposcatter Telecommunications Station in this Slideshow are provided by Ludwig Hejze. These unique photos show Dubai as it used to be!
Foundation dug by Labourers
Bulldozers removed loose Scree Rock. Jebel Ali is mostly Scree Rock.
Foundations being laid by hand
Administration Building under construction. Still in use today.
Operations Building under construction. Still in use today
Operations Building. Still in use today.
Troposcatter Dish Foundation.
Troposcatter Dish Control Room
1970: Aerial View of Dubai's Troposcatter Telecommunications Station
Google Map Aerial View of current Satellite Communications Station in same Jebel Ali location/