x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Time Frame: prayers on an Abu Dhabi beach in 1960

The Holy Months in the early 1960s were in January and February, which made gathering on the beach for prayers a more comfortable experience.

Courtesy of BP
Courtesy of BP

Abu Dhabi's old main mosque was built at the beginning of the 20th century by Khalaf Al Otaiba, a powerful local businessman known as the "King of Pearls".

This photograph comes from the BP archive and, unfortunately, it is not dated or captioned. The file from which it is taken gives a date range of between 1953 and 1963.

Most likely it was taken around 1960, by when the Otaiba Mosque was in a serious state of disrepair. In any event, it would have been inadequate for the large numbers of worshippers that Ramadan.

The Holy Months in the early 1960s were in January and February, which made gathering on the beach for prayers a more comfortable experience.

The large number of armed guards seen here, with the Qasr Al Hosn as a backdrop, suggests the presence of the Ruler, Sheikh Shakbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

To aid worshippers, a mihrab has been built in the sand, flanked by further markers to indicate the direction of Mecca.

As for the Otaiba Mosque, it was so badly damaged by the corrosive effects of salt that, with regret, a decision to demolish it was taken in 1977. This Ramadan we have the splendour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, whose main prayer hall alone can accommodate 7,000 worshippers. But it is worth noting that, in the eyes of God, prayers on the beach are still as meaningful.

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