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From Sheikh Mohammed's Wedding In '70S To Winning Expo Bid: Rare Photos Capture Dubai's Special Moments Through The Years

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)

Published: Thu 1 Dec 2022, 12:43 PM

Last updated: Thu 1 Dec 2022, 12:49 PM

This Indian expat has been at the forefront of documenting the transformation of Dubai — from a desert oasis into the technologically advanced, cosmopolitan tourist hub that it is today.

As the head of the photography department of the Dubai Police, 1st Warrant Officer (retired) Mushtaq Ahmed has captured the city's development through his lenses for 41 years, until he retired in 2018. From meeting the Rulers of the UAE to being a presence at the most significant moment in Dubai's history, he has seen it all.

And as the country marks its 51st national day, t he 76-year-old shared his most precious treasures with Khaleej Times.

“It was a wonderful experience working with Lt-Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, and the present Commander-in-Chief Lt-Gen of the Dubai Police Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri,” said Mushtaq Ahmed.

Here's a photo of him with Lt-Gen Dhahi Khalfan:

Working with the Dubai Police have allowed the veteran photographer to see different places around the world, too.

'I remember once, when we went to see Australia, I was impressed with the kind of labs they had as we did not have them. But today, the UAE has one of the most advanced technologies in the world. The police from all over the world come to learn from us. That is the vision the leaders of this country have,' he said.


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One of the most memorable occasions in Mushtaq's life is photographing the wedding festivities of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in 1979.“It was a great event with lots of festivities,” he recalled.“His Highness was sitting inside his vehicle watching the activities. A lot of international and local journalists were there but none of them could get any photographs because he was sitting inside the car. Everyone asked me to request him to come out. I was a little nervous, but I went up to him and conveyed the request. He looked at me and asked, 'Are you saying I should get out of the car?'. I nodded. After a few seconds he got out and we all were able to get beautiful photos of him.”

For Mushtaq, the occasion was also special because he was able to see the lively and jovial side of the leaders of the UAE.“The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum were also there and they took part in the wedding festivities,” he said.“Sheikh Zayed participated in the event.”

Recently, the Dubai Police honoured him for his role in preserving the history of the UAE.“It came as a complete surprise for me,” he said.

“I just went to meet my old friend Saeed Ahmed Mohammad Ameen as I had been out of the country for 3.5 months. When I got there, my friend asked me to come to the hall. I was then called on to the stage and presented with a gift. Col Dr Ahmed Mohammed Al Sadi hugged me and kissed me on my forehead. It is extremely rare for a former employee to get this kind of honour. I am grateful to my friend Saeed for arranging this.”

A large part of Mushtaq's job was to document the changing face of Dubai. This photograph of the Clock Tower long before Maktoum bridge was built shows how different the area looked in the 1970s.

As part of his job, Mushtaq often travelled in helicopters to take aerial photographs. This photo of the Dubai World Trade Centre was taken in the 1980s, before the construction of the Sheikh Zayed Road.

This aerial photo of the Burj Khalifa taken in 2014 remains one of Mushtaq's favourite aerial photo. A framed copy of it is hung on the wall at his house in Oud Muteena.“The building of Burj Khalifa was one of the most significant moments in Dubai's history,” he said.“I am glad I was able to document it.”

Mushtaq has conducted several exhibitions in the UAE and several of his photos have been converted into paintings. His photographs have been an integral part of preserving the transformation of Dubai as a city.

When he retired in 2018, six departments of the Dubai Police felicitated him for his efforts. This collage documents him with three different rulers of Dubai.

(Top) Mushtaq with late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, (bottom left) with late Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum and (bottom right) with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum after Dubai won the Expo bid.


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