Time frame: a parade on the UAE's first birthday

Sheikh Zayed watches a National Day parade on December 2, 1972.

Sheikh Zayed at the 1st anniversary of National Day celebration in 2nd December 1972, waving as the scout parade takes place. Courtesy Al Ittihad

What a difference a year makes. It's 1972, and the UAE is one year old.

The signing of documents that formed the new federation was by many accounts a quiet affair, attended by dignitaries and diplomats, in Dubai. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was named president of the fledgling country, and one year later here he is, regal and presidential in heavenly white, flowing robes, overlooking a large parade attended by an even larger group of Abu Dhabi residents.

The UAE's growth was incremental and steady. By 1972, the country had its own postal system and was issuing its own stamps; a single currency for all seven emirates was less than a year away. The economy was growing, built on the strength of Abu Dhabi's and Dubai's oil wealth and the population was steadily increasing as well, with more and more expatriates arriving as labourers and advisers to grow the country. There were 144,000 labourers in the UAE in 1972; that figure would double within three years.

A few, no doubt, took in National Day festivities.

Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation's past. Each week it features an image from the archives of both prominent institutions and private collections. Readers are invited to make contributions to yourpics@thenational.ae

A special 48-page National Day magazine will be published with the newspaper on Wednesday