x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai thriller as the King of Pop comes to town

A year after Michael Jackson's death, we remember the time 14 years before that when the sometimes controversial singer came to Dubai.

Almost a year ago, on June 25, 2009, the world woke to learn that the singer Michael Jackson had died at the age of 50. Some of Jackson's most devoted fans live in the Middle East. Although the pop superstar never performed in Dubai, his visit in 1995 was one of the most talked-about events of the year. Jackson arrived in the city at the end of August. Barely two months had passed since his acquittal in the US on charges of child molestation, after which he had flown to Bahrain to recover from the ordeal. His guide to Dubai was Mohammed bin Sulayem, the UAE rally driver who was acquainted with Jackson's host in Bahrain. Over the next few days, fans spotted their idol visiting the Mall of the Emirates, enjoying buffalo wings at the Hard Rock Cafe and looking round plans for the islands of The World development, the latter leading to fevered speculation that he might be moving to the UAE. This being Michael Jackson, the visit also took a bizarre twist. On a visit to Ibn Battuta Mall, a Tunisian woman was shocked to find a man with his face hidden by a sheila scarf in the women's toilet. After security were called, it emerged that the stranger was Jackson, who had taken a wrong turn.

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 contribute and can submit ideas and photographs to yourpics@thenational.ae