x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Time Frame: After Empty Quarter crossing, a calm morning on the water

In this photo taken by the explorer Wilfred Thesiger after he crossed the Empty Quarter in 1948, a group of men launch a fishing boat from what is now the Corniche.

Wilfred Thesiger
Wilfred Thesiger

After crossing the Empty Quarter in 1948, the British explorer Wilfred Thesiger arrived in Abu Dhabi to take a series of captivating photographs of the town in an age before oil.

Among the images was this one, a group of men in the stillness of early morning launching a fishing boat from what is now the Corniche. It was a scene unchanged for hundreds of years.

The photograph is included in a new book, 43 Photographers, published this month to mark the 25th anniversary of Motivate Publishing in Dubai.

As the title suggests, the book includes work from 43 photographers, all shot in the UAE. The 170 images span 66 years of history, and include the work of distinguished local photographers Noor Ali Rashid and Ramesh Shukla, along with those of Patrick Lichfield, perhaps best known for his portraits of the British royal family.

The Thesiger images are among the earlier ones, along with those of Ronald Codrai, who came to Dubai around the same time to join the hunt for oil.

Later works include Ferrari World under construction on Yas Island in January 2010, Global Village by Hersh Chadha in 2000 and Anita Van Der Kroll's images of the Deira Souq in the late 1970s. Then there is Dirk Laubner's image of a sailing dhow under way off Dubai in 2006. Except that it is in colour, it could be Thesiger's boat; a demonstration that everything changes yet that some things stay the same. 43 Photographers is published by Motivate Publishing.

Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation's past. Readers are invited to make contributions to yourpics@thenational.ae