x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Time Frame: Bulldozers prepare the desert for agriculture

This picture was taken by the renowned photographer Romano Cagnoni to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of the UAE in 1996.

This image appeared in an advertising feature for Newsweek magazine and shows a small army of bulldozers levelling the desert in preparation for use as agricultural land.
This image appeared in an advertising feature for Newsweek magazine and shows a small army of bulldozers levelling the desert in preparation for use as agricultural land.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the UAE in 1996, a number of distinguished photographers were commissioned to record their impressions of the fast-maturing nation.

One of them was Romano Cagnoni, an Italian who had lived and worked in London most of his professional life.

Cagnoni had won a reputation as a war photographer, recording the Nigerian Civil War, the Falklands War and the mujaheddin insurgency against Soviet forces occupying Afghanistan.

Harold Evans, the legendary editor of The Sunday Times in London, ranked Cagnoni alongside Henri Cartier-Bresson and Bill Brandt as a master of his craft.

His photographs of the UAE were of a gentler nature. Some were published in a commemorative book, The Spirit of the Land, and many also appeared in newspapers and magazines all over the world.

This image appeared in an advertising feature for Newsweek magazine and shows a small army of bulldozers levelling the desert in preparation for use as agricultural land.

The accompanying words note that "few countries have experienced such swift development. A people largely illiterate a generation ago, with a hard existence won from the sea and the margins of agriculture, today enjoy one of the word's highest standards of living."

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