Time Frame: Tales of tarmac and wet feet

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For more than 24 hours last week, the link between Abu Dhabi and Dubai was severed by flooding caused by torrential rain that blocked the Sheikh Zayed Road.

Such delays were part of life even in the 1960s.

This photograph shows the Al Maqta Bridge in 1969, two years after its completion.

The modern concrete and steel span replaced an elderly stone causeway that was previously the only way to leave Abu Dhabi island with dry feet.

But once past the customs house at the eastern end of the bridge, the route to Dubai involved following tyre tracks through the desert, while attempting to avoid the treacherous sabqa, a quagmire of sand and gypsum protected by a thin crust that could trap vehicles for hours.

It was not until the 1970s that the first tarmac road was completed between the two emirates, a single lane in each direction that, by all accounts, was still filled with potholes and lined with the wrecks of vehicles that had come to grief.

With the current journey between Abu Dhabi and Dubai reduced to barely an hour these days, it is worth remembering that Mother Nature has always had at least a say in the matter.

* James Langton