Secret Dubai diary Intrigue and adventure in the United Arab Emirates

iPhone RPGs

Dubai Info

Best role-playing games
Spiderweb Software
for Mac & PC

25 September, 2004

The Great Battle of Deira

A short history of Dubai, Vol I, for the many UAE residents and UAE-curious who are clueless about the history of the Emirates. Given that most history books take the form of a Sheikhly hagiography, glossing over details unpalatable to their subject, some ignorance is perhaps excuseable.

Deira, for example, never used to be part of Dubai. It was only acquired after decades of raids and cross-creek warfare, as Adam Smith's 1981 book Paper Money reveals. Excerpt part 1 and Excerpt part 2.

The scene: Deira - that nightmarish winding labyrinth of gridlocked single-lane streets between the Creek and Sharjah - in the dusty, desert days of the mid-1900s. The hero: the white-robed Sheikh Rashid, possibly by this time riding a motorised camel rather than an Arab thoroughbred, but valiant nonetheless.

"Before the oil - the first strike was not until 1957 - Sheikh Rashid feuded with Deira, the rival village across the creek. The weapons used in this feud were the cannons from old ships, some of them hundreds of years old. The cannons were stuffed with rags and pistons from hijacked cars, and since cannonballs were in short supply, a nightly truce after sunset prayers permitted the combatants to comb the battlefields and retrieve the cannonballs.

"One day, in the pre-oil era, Sheikh Rashid accepted a dinner invitation across the creek, and then had his men kill off his hosts. In the best Middle Eastern tradition - and not unlike Richard III - he consolidated this victory by marrying the thirteen-year-old daughter of the vanquished ruler of Deira to his brother."

The book goes on to describe Sheikha Sana as a "high-spirited woman who once shot her husband's fourth wife." She also built up a thriving taxi fleet.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

next issue is no. 12

Google Secret Dubai, The World's Blog Aggregator
 Blog Top Sites

Powered by Blogger

StatCounter stats