x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

25. Tape recorder from December 2, 1971

To mark the nation's 40th anniversary, we feature 40 historic objects.

At a little after 10am on the morning of December 2, 1971, the microphone of this Nagra Kudelski tape deck recorded the following message: "We congratulate ourselves and our brothers for our independence and the establishment of this union."
The speaker was Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in his first public duty as President of the newly-formed United Arab Emirates.
Sheikh Zayed's message was then broadcast over the new United Emirates Radio Station, which launched that day.
Dozens of journalists attended the foundation of the UAE in the building in Dubai now known as Union House, but at the time it was a circular room that formed part of the majlis of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, who became the nation's first Prime Minister.
They included a team from Abu Dhabi TV and reporters and photographers from Al Ittihad newspaper, which had been founded on the instructions of Sheikh Zayed in 1969. This recorder, immaculately preserved, now forms part of the archive of Abu Dhabi Media, the publishers of The National.
According to some reports, the machine was lucky to survive the day in one piece. After Sheikh Zayed's remarks, the official proclamation was read by Ahmed Al Suwaidi, soon to become the Foreign Minister.
Such was the press of reporters and photographers in the room of Union House, that many members of the media clambered on to tables to capture the historic moment.
According to an account by Sir Geoffrey Arthur, the British representative on the day, reporters and cameramen "surged forward" as the treaty of friendship with the UK was signed, forcing the dignitaries to eventually leave the room via a window.
This particular recorder is a mono Nagra model made by the Kudelski company of Switzerland and was the finest sound recorder available in the world at the time. Its inventor, Stefan Kudelski, named the machine after the phrase "to record" in his native Polish.