When a spot to sun­bathe was not hard to find

The National - News - The Review - - Time Frame -

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

Courtesy Aleti­had

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