Not an earthquake or a typhoon. This is the construction of the Corniche that began in Abu Dhabi in the late 1970s. A road had existed there previously, to serve the growing number of buildings, including banks, public buildings and a hotel, that had sprung up in the 1960s, but this was something different.
What the city had in mind was something grander, a waterfront statement whose name carried echoes of sophisticated Europe and Beirut (even if the name is actually a French word for a road on the side of a mountain or cliff).
As this photograph taken for Al Ittihad newspaper in September 1977, shows, building the Corniche involved considerable disruption. But the result was worth it; a place where the city could unwind in evenings and weekends and enjoy a sea breeze, perhaps with a shawarma or shisha, It also had a practical purpose, protecting the city from the occasional flooding that inundated parts of the town. Parks, fountains, cafes and even a cycle track all followed. The Corniche has since undergone a number of changes, making it a major highway across the city, but most notably the addition of a public beach which opened in 2009.
In its essence, though, the appeal of the Corniche is the same today as it was 40 years ago. A place for the Abu Dhabi everyman, woman and child.
* James Langton