x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

29. A camera belonging to Noor Ali Rashid, Royal photographer

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

Noor Ali Rashid, Royal photographer
Noor Ali Rashid, Royal photographer
As the flag of the United Arab Emirates was raised over Union House in Dubai for the first time, Noor Ali Rashid pressed the shutter on his camera. it was a time for celebration but for Rashid, also a working day.

For more than 60 years, the Dubai-based photographer chronicled life in the seven emirates, from the rulers of the nation to the landscape and culture of his adopted land.

Perhaps his most iconic photograph was taken on the day of union, December 2, 1971, with the rulers standing underneath the fluttering flag.

His daughter, Shamsa, recalls the moment: "From what I understand from him, it was extremely exciting.

"On that day, the most famous photograph of his is the flag hoisted and the six rulers at that time standing right below.

"It is the way we officially announced ourselves as a nation."

The camera shown here is one of up to 30 cameras Rashid used in his long career. Asahi Pentax - now simply called Pentax - had developed the world's first single-lens reflex camera in 1957, with this model introduced in the late 1960s. In the final years of his life he had made the transition to digital.

"He had an amazing collection," says his daughter. "He loved his cameras."

Born in 1929 in what is now Pakistan, Rashid was sent to Dubai by his father, who was unhappy at his son's interest in photography and hoped that a job working in a shop in Bur Dubai would focus his attention on business.

Attending the funeral of Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum shortly after arriving in the city, Rashid later presented the results to Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, whose accession he also captured. A career as a Royal photographer was born.

His family estimate Rashid had taken more than one million frames by the time of his death in August 2010. For his daughter, the task now is to organise them into a permanent archive.

"We have so far archived about 200,000 black-and-white images from the early 1970s," she says. "It's a fascinating project and a wonderful thing to work on."