When winter storms trapped a Land Rover on Abu Dhabi's seafront

Archive photograph from 1960s shows impact of stormy weather

The Land Rover trapped on Abu Dhabi's seafront in the stormy weather in 1963. Photo: David Riley
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Heavy rain is falling across the UAE. Roads are waterlogged, the seas are rough and more downpours are forecast.

But if you think the conditions today are inclement, then let’s go back to the 1960s.

This photograph was taken in 1963 by David Riley, a British resident who lived in Abu Dhabi then, and worked for the British Bank of the Middle East (now HSBC).

It shows a group of officials from the bank, and its company Land Rover, caught out by a sudden storm surge on Abu Dhabi’s waterfront. It happened when high winds forced the sea on to the shore. Dark skies brood overhead, the churning surf can be seen in the background and the waters worryingly rise around the Land Rover.

“Even so, there is still time to stop and pose for a photo,” Mr Riley wrote about the episode.

Abu Dhabi’s Corniche as we know it today, with its modern roads and port, did not exist then. The sea often surged onshore and caused floods, frequently inundating cargo stacked on the waterfront.

This photograph of the storm is part of a collection Mr Riley took chronicling his time in Abu Dhabi. Taken on a 35 millimetre German Voigtländer camera, they show souqs, airfields and the early oil explorations camps.

Mr Riley left Abu Dhabi in August 1964, after deciding to return to the UK permanently. As for the Land Rover, its fate remains unknown.

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Updated: January 26, 2023, 9:22 AM