"Abu Tubaila", as the children in this photograph would have called him, literally means the man with the little drum, a traditional and essential figure in times gone by.
Drummer who heralds the Ramadan dawn
"Abu Tubaila", as the children in this photograph would have called him, literally means the man with the little drum, a traditional and essential figure during Ramadan in times gone by. His job was to wake the head of the household, almost always the woman, to begin preparation of the suhoor meal before the dawn prayers. He would then continue to wander the streets and alleys of Abu Dhabi, singing and reciting prayers and supplications.
The real name of Abu Tubaila in this image, which probably dates from the 1960s, is given as Khamees. A poor man, he would have been paid a small fee by each household, to be collected at the start of Eid ul Fitr. Ramadan drummers are still active in many Muslim countries; a tradition that is thought to have begun in the Abbasid caliphate in the 8th century. * The National Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation's past. Each week it will feature an image from the archives of both prominent institutions and private collections. Readers are also invited to make their contribution and can submit ideas and photographs to email@example.com