Time Frame: Abu Dhabi's harvest from the world

There’s really nothing remarkable about this image. It shows a small grocery shop somewhere in downtown Abu Dhabi. It was taken by the French photographer Jack Burlot in 1974.

There are still dozens of such shops dotted around the city. What catches the eye here are the lush fruits and vegetables piled so high they almost obscure the shopkeeper and his customer. Plump red tomatoes, crisp onions and aromatic garlic, along with green beans, oranges, carrots, cabbages and what look like avocados.

Suspended from the ceiling are ripening bunches of bananas. A harvest from the world, no less and a bounty that the UAE continues to enjoy to this day. It was not always so. Less than 20 years earlier, what fresh fruit and vegetables that could be found were purely seasonal.

Oranges and bananas were a luxury; special guests at the palaces of sheikhs were entertained with precious tins of imported canned fruit. In Abu Dhabi, the diet of ordinary folk would have consisted largely of fish and rice.

And if bad weather kept the fishing fleet in port, there were no grocers to fall back on. Just rice. * James Langton

Explore our pictorial history of old Abu Dhabi with the interactive map below, and see all of our Time Frames here.

View Time Frame in a larger map Key for Time Frame map

Published: September 30, 2012 04:00 AM


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