x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Time Frame: An expat watches a new country take shape

The souq in Ajman was the subject of the first in a series of photographs taken by longtime resident Peter Jackson illustrating life in the newly established UAE from 1971 onward.

The souq in Ajman, 1971. Courtesy Peter Jackson
The souq in Ajman, 1971. Courtesy Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson first visited Dubai as a young man at the end of 1971. His parents were working in the city and he liked the place enough to take a job, working for John R Harris Architects during the construction of Rashid Hospital.

The slides he took during that period have since travelled around the world, but are now back in the UAE, along with the photographer, who works as a consultant for the Ruler’s Office on a number of important conservation projects in Sharjah. This image of the souq in Ajman is the first of a series taken by Mr Jackson that illustrate life in the newly established  UAE. It was taken on a Friday, which he says was “the only day I really had time to  explore different places outside Dubai.

“It highlights the traditional character of the souq; its narrow pedestrian lanes sheltered from the sun with arish mats suspended on poles; folding timber doors in lieu of more modern glazed shopfronts, and with a raised decha or step in front, on which goods could be displayed.

“A visit to the souq always offered a magical quality of discovery – you never knew what  ‘treasure’ you might find: a fine old brass coffee pot, or some engraved semi-precious stones, a bronze ladle or a miniature set of scales for weighing pearls. These were memorable days in the life of an architecture student that would forever change his view of the world.”

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