Times change but devotions remain the same
What difference does half a century make? In 1966, Eid Al Fitr, the festival which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, fell on January 23.
At the time it was estimated that there were only around 45,000 people in Abu Dhabi emirate as a whole, a tiny proportion of whom can be seen in this picture from the BP Archive, gathered in prayer on the sands behind the south wing of Qasr Al Hosn.
To put things in perspective, a similar number of worshippers gathered for Eid Al Fitr prayers at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in 2014, 10,000 inside the building’s mighty prayer hall and 30,000 in its 18,000 square metre courtyard.
The Abu Dhabi in this photograph might be unrecognisable to many readers but then, as now, the direction of prayer was marked by the location of the mihrab, or semi-circular niche, in the qibla wall, and men and women, who can just be seen on the edge of this photo, prayed in separate spaces.
Today’s qibla walls may be lined with gold and marble but the people’s orientation, like their piety, remains the same. Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation’s past. Readers are invited to make contributions to [email protected]ational.ae