Time Frame: Putting the golf into the Gulf

  • Courtesy John Vale
  • Courtesy John Vale

January 13, 2014

This weekend marks the expiry of the oil concession for Abu Dhabi, which began 75 years ago in January 1939.

It also, sees the start of the 2014 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, an event that attracts many of the world’s top ­players.

This image, taken more than half a century ago, manages to link both events. It shows a lone expatriate, employed in the early days of oil development, playing as best he can on an impromptu golf course near Tarif, where the exploration camps were based.

The Western Region, in those days, was a remote place, accessible only by sea or across difficult desert terrain. Those employed on the search for oil were far from loved ones and conventional forms of entertainment. So a little initiative was called for.

Our solitary golfer would have been amazed and thrilled by next week’s tournament, without realising, perhaps, his part in its creation.

For it is the bounty of oil that has built the country that we know today, bringing an increasingly diversified economy in which golf tournaments, and the visitors and prestige that they deliver, are just one more part.

* James Langton