A new exhibition marks the first international collaboration between Etihad Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, London
It was between 1969 and 1971 that the reality of a United Arab Emirates truly took shape. At the time, the region was undergoing a seismic shift – the British presence in the Gulf was on its way out and calls to unify the emirates intensified.
The reshaping of relations between the two countries in this period is the focus of an exhibition titled Photographs in Dialogue UAE – 1971 – UK. The show, told chronologically through rare images, objects and archival material, opens at Dubai’s Etihad Museum on Wednesday, September 9.
Photographs in Dialogue is the result of a partnership between the museum and the National Portrait Gallery in London, and it is the latter’s first collaborative project in the Middle East.
In 1968, the British government announced that it would withdraw from the Gulf by the end of 1971, compelling the region’s leaders to prepare for a new reality. The exhibition’s scope is narrow, following the leaders from the UK and the Emirates as they navigated the path towards unification.
The show chronicles some of the important meetings of the 1960s, including visits to Downing Street by Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, then Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, as they handled negotiations with British prime ministers Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. There are also photographs from the sheikhs’ royal visit to Buckingham Palace, where they met Queen Elizabeth II, in 1969.
In another section of the exhibition, a number of portraits capture the political representatives from the UK who lived in what would become the UAE throughout the 1950s and 1960s, working as explorers, oil tycoons and mediators between local rulers and the British government.
Read the full article on The National.
Photographs in Dialogue UAE – 1971 – UK runs until March 25. More information is at www.etihadmuseum.ae