Time Frame: Jumping ahead, entering the modern world in Abu Dhabi

  • An image from 1974 shows a school – we do not know which one – where a group of young girls are taking an exercise class. Courtesy Jack Burlot
  • An image from 1974 shows a school – we do not know which one – where a group of young girls are taking an exercise class. Courtesy Jack Burlot

September 23, 2012

As a 17-year-old in 1967, Jack Burlot could claim to be the youngest photographer of the Vietnam War. Seven years later, Burlot found himself in Abu Dhabi, in considerably less hazardous conditions, commissioned by Cacharel to shoot a fashion feature incorporating many of the city’s landmarks, including Qasr Al Hosn.

At the same time, Burlot, who now lives in his native France, took the opportunity to capture daily life in a city that was beginning to emerge onto the world stage. Several of those photographs will feature here in the coming months, but to start here is an image from 1974. It shows a school – we do not know which one – where a group of young girls are taking an exercise class.

As a subject it is charming but mundane, except for one thing. These girls are doing something extraordinary. Their mothers, grandmothers and all the generations before them would have never known the benefits of formal education.

This is the first generation that can take literacy for granted. They can expect an education that for their parents was almost unthinkable, along with good health care, clean water and a solid roof over their heads.

Sometimes, the unremarkable can be the most remarkable of all.

* James Langton

Explore our pictorial history of old Abu Dhabi with the interactive map below, and see all of our Time Frames here.

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