x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Time Frame: Sheikh Zayed's visit to Switzerland

Thought to have been taken in 1979, this photo shows the UAE's founding president walking down the street in the beautiful Swiss resort of Lausanne.

Sheikh Zayed with Dr Mana Saeed Al Otaiba, UAE Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister, on the streets of Lausanne, Switzerland in the early 1970s.
Sheikh Zayed with Dr Mana Saeed Al Otaiba, UAE Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister, on the streets of Lausanne, Switzerland in the early 1970s.

It is a beautiful morning in the Swiss resort of Lausanne and a head of state steps out purposefully into the sunshine.

Sheikh Zayed made several visits to the town and the surrounding countryside, often accompanied by his children. On this occasion, as with many others, he was accompanied by the official royal photographer, Noor Ali Rashid, who died almost a year ago, aged 80.

An exhibition of Rashid’s work, organised by the Emirati-Swiss  Friendship Forum, has opened at Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva, celebrating the connection between the two nations. The show, which runs until July 15, includes this photograph, which is undated, but may have been taken in 1979, when the official record shows that Sheikh Zayed made a private visit to the town, meeting with King Khalid bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia.

The location of this photograph is actually easy to discover. The hotel in the background is the Hotel Angleterre, although it is more likely that the president of the UAE was staying at the five-star Beau Rivage Palace, just a short stroll away.

But where was Sheikh Zayed going that day, and what had caught his eye?

Thanks to Google Street View it is actually possible to put ourselves in the ruler’s shoes.

The tree-lined street he is walking down, the Place du Vieux Port, is now a pedestrian precinct but the view is essentially unchanged.

Ahead are the sparkling waters of Lake Geneva, alive with small pleasure craft and framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Chablais Alps.

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