It was on a visit to Dubai in 1975 that I discovered the theme for my first book – oil and the changing face of the Gulf.

In the end I included all the Gulf states and also Oman, on the Arabian Sea. But it was the Dubai of `Old Gulf Coast` days that I found most enchanting with traditional dhows moored along its creek and a forest of open-throated wind-towers gracing coral-stone mansions in the Bastikia Quarter.

At six o`clock one morning I watched Sheikh Rashid, Dubai`s canny old ruler, point out a suitable site for a road tunnel, beneath the creek, the first step in urban development.

Now Dubai is about to open a new Metro and the phrase `Desert Manhattan` if not entirely true from a financial view, is certainly accurate of the architecture.

Present ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, has shot the emirate into the 21st century in one gigantic leap, changing it from a quiet old merchant state into a tourist playground, with ski-runs, shopping malls, and some of the Arab world`s most ostentatious hotels, such as the huge, pink Atlantis resort, on Palm Island.

Both Sheikh Rashid, and Sheikh Zayed (late president of the UAE, who won many international awards for environmental schemes) would be dismayed by the Atlantis` imprisonment of a whale shark, as a visitor attraction, in its aquarium.

Sharks and smaller fish okay, but Rhincodon typus is an endangered species, and it was never caught by accident, while stranded in the shallows of the Gulf, as is usually claimed.
It was captured expressly for exhibition in the Atlantis, whose current change of managers, offers an opportunity to set the whale shark free.

If this does not now happen, despite many international pleas, then I call for a TOURIST BOYCOTT OF DUBAI.

c.Christine Osborne, The Gulf States & Oman (1977) Image: Atlantis Hotel Dubai by Claire Stout. Source:

About Travels with My Hat

Australian photojournalist and author. Used London as a base for nearly forty years while freelancing in the Middle East, Arabian peninsular, Africa and South Asia. Have written and illustrated more than a dozen books and travel guides. Operates a well regarded religious images stock photo library: Live in Leura in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.
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  1. Mimi Forsyth says:

    What a sad awful thing. Thanks for exposing it!

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