x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

White Fort stands proudly as time marches on

Hidden behind hoardings as it undergoes a major restoration, the Qasr Al Hosn, or White Fort, is easily overlooked amid the hustle and bustle of central Abu Dhabi.

Hidden behind hoardings as it undergoes a major restoration, the Qasr Al Hosn, or White Fort, is easily overlooked amid the hustle and bustle of central Abu Dhabi. When this photo was taken, though, sometime in the 1960s, the fort was a royal palace and still a symbol of the power and authority of the ruler of Abu Dhabi. The image shows soldiers from the Trucial Oman Scouts, the military force raised by the British to guarantee security in the region before unification. They are parading under the red-and-white flag of Abu Dhabi.

The fort itself dates from the late 18th century, when it was merely a watchtower guarding a water source. The structure underwent major reconstruction in the 1930s, but it ceased to become a royal residence following the accession of Sheikh Zayed in 1966. It then became a centre of administration. The name "White Fort" dates only from a major renovation that took place between 1976 and 1983, when the exterior was painted white. It is expected to reopen next year.

After the creation of the UAE in December 1971, the Scouts were reconstituted as the Union Defence Force. Their first commander was Colonel Edward "Tug" Wilson, who died last year at the age of 87. 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 yourpics@thenational.ae