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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

WATCH: How Land Rovers dominated the seven emirates 50 years ago

A new short film follows two engineers recalling driving in the 1960s, when the UAE was still known as the Trucial States

In the 1960s, the seven emirates had few roads, especially outside the cities. Jaguar Land Rover
In the 1960s, the seven emirates had few roads, especially outside the cities. Jaguar Land Rover

Off-road stalwarts Land Rover were in on the ground floor of the UAE's development – and to celebrate the British brand's 70th anniversary, it has brought together two Land Rover-loving engineers who first worked in what was then the Trucial States in the 1960s.

British chartered civil engineer Robin Webb, now 77, came to Dubai in 1965 when he was 25, while Ras Al Khaimah resident Majed Mohammed Awwad, a Palestinian, started working as an engineer in 1968.

A Land Rover in the Trucial States in the 1960s. Jaguar Land Rover
Engineers such as Webb and Awwad would travel with up to seven other people per vehicle. Jaguar Land Rover

Back then, there was very little in the way of roads at all, let alone the world-class tarmac that exists across the seven emirates today, with just a few proper city streets in Dubai.

In addition to working in Dubai, including on the dredging of Dubai Creek, Webb also took on jobs in Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah.

A Land Rover in the Trucial States in the 1960s. Jaguar Land Rover
Land Rovers were crucial to navigating the country in the 1960s. Jaguar Land Rover

The only realistic option to traverse the country, aside from camels, was the hardy British off-roaders, travelling with up to eight people per vehicle – “we basically lived in Land Rovers,” Webb recalls.

“The only car that could be used everywhere," Awwad remembers. "Whoever owned a Land Rover was considered important.”

Below, you can watch Journey of Rediscovery, a short film that explores Webb and Awwad's return to the country, half a century on.

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