Union Day When Len Chapman, a British expat, touched down in Dubai in March 1971, his journey began as an engineer at the newly constructed Port Rashid. Surprisingly, his immigration process took a mere 30 seconds, setting the stage for a remarkable chapter in his life.
Driving to his Jumeirah Beach Road residence, Len and his wife were greeted by an expansive desert landscape. The absence of trees and nearly nonexistent roads left them questioning their decision. Little did they know that this humble beginning would evolve into over 30 years of residence in Dubai.
Witnessing Union Day: A Quiet Yet Impactful Affair
Beach Palace Gathering
Living on Jumeirah Road, Len heard about the imminent signing of the UAE union. Curious, he decided to witness the historic event at the beach palace. A line of cars entering the palace hinted at the significant moment unfolding. Rulers, including Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, drove out. Len vividly remembers Sheikh Zayed’s gesture, waving at the small gathering.
Historic Evening in Sharjah
Later that evening, Len drove to Sharjah to witness another historic moment – the departure of British forces from the country. Although he missed meeting his old classmate piloting the last RAF plane, walking across the base marked the end of an era.
Dubai’s Unyielding Growth: From Deserts to Skyscrapers: Union Day
Len marvels at Dubai’s growth, from manual container unloading at Port Rashid to crane-operated processes within seven years. His ordinary job turned extraordinary as the port’s size doubled by 1980.
Admiration for Sheikh Rashid
Len holds deep admiration for Sheikh Rashid, applauding his visionary leadership and practical approach. He recounts attending a wedding where Sheikh Rashid’s presence reflected a leader deeply connected to the people.
Humorous Reflections: Departure and Ongoing Growth: Union Day
From One Door to Gate 279
Leaving Dubai in 2003, Len humorously reflects on the city’s growth, joking about arriving through one door and departing from gate 279. Despite the changes, he expresses joy in witnessing Dubai’s ongoing growth.