When a spot to sunbathe was not hard to find
How times change. With the opening of the new Four Seasons Hotel on Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island this week, the capital not only chalked up its 41st five-star establishment but added an extra 200 rooms to the 29,000 already available.
Back in the early 70s however, the situation was very different. Built in 1973 at the western end of Abu Dhabi’s Corniche on a plot that was then effectively out of town, the Hilton was Abu Dhabi’s first international hotel and was constructed at a time when the city was experiencing a wave of unprecedented development thanks to a boom in oil prices.
Abu Dhabi didn’t have any tourists at the time – tourist visas didn’t exist – but there was an increasing number of business travellers, airline crews and expatriates living in the city, and many locals were drawn to the hotel’s tennis courts, swimming pool and restaurants.
The 10-storey Hilton, pictured in 1977 above, no longer stands shoulder-to-shoulder, let alone eye-to-eye, with its vertiginous neighbours but in its 46th year the hotel continues to be a fixture in the city’s social life and is a reminder of an earlier generation of its architectural ambition. Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation’s past. Readers are invited to make contributions to [email protected] thenational.ae