x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Time Frame: Booming Mina Zayed port takes a shiny yellow delivery

This picture, taken by the French photographer Alain Saint-Hilaire in 1975, shows shiny new Mercedes lorries being unloaded at Mina Zayed.

Alain Saint-Hilaire
Alain Saint-Hilaire

It is 1975 and a cargo ship packed with shiny new Mercedes lorries has just docked at Mina Zayed. Oil prices are soaring and the deepwater port is playing a crucial role in driving Abu Dhabi's booming economy. The confident pose of the man on the dock is a compelling symbol of the city's emerging wealth and power.

The new port was at the heart of plans to transform Abu Dhabi. It was planned soon after Sheikh Zayed became Ruler in 1966 and construction began two years later. It was officially inaugurated in 1972 by Sheikh Zayed. This image was taken by Alain Saint-Hilaire, a French photographer who made a number of trips to the Gulf in the 1960s and 1970s.

A decade earlier, it would have been a very different scene. Goods arriving by sea were delivered directly on to the beach, where the Corniche now stands.

Today, Mina Zayed has been joined by Musaffah port, with the giant Khalifa deepwater free port at Kizad, although the original port still plays a vital part in the city's economy.

These days it is now also a destination for cruise ships and the newest sector of the economy - tourism.

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