Abu Dhabi: An autobiography of a businessman documenting what life was like in Abu Dhabi from 1950 to 1970 has been made into a 45-minute documentary film, showing how Emiratis lived their daily lives before the discovery of oil and the booming success of the capital.
“I originally wrote the book so that the next generations could learn about how life was like for us before, and the struggles we went through before all the development and success that we see now. The documentary takes some of the events that are found in the book and has put them into film,” said Mohammad Al Fahim, former chairman of Al Fahim Group, who wrote the book ‘From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi’, which has been made into the documentary film ‘The Early Years: The Untold Story of Abu Dhabi’.
Speaking about his experiences, which can be found in the book and documentary, Al Fahim talked about the importance of remembering the past and the hard work and sweat Emiratis put into transforming Abu Dhabi into a modern, world-class city.
“We don’t want our young generation to be spoiled by what they see today — we were not born with a golden spoon, we had to start everything from scratch,” he said. “So we were the first government officials, we were the first businessmen, the first board directors, and we all had to learn as we got along these positions,” he added.
Al Fahim said that being self-taught about all these new roles helped make Emiratis resilient.
“We took the responsibility and did the best with what we could do, so it’s important for the younger generation to know that it was not easy, and that they have to work and toil hard if they want to achieve their goals like we did before them,” he said.
Al Fahim spoke about how Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan would delegate Emiratis with several different responsibilities and jobs to ensure Abu Dhabi’s drive towards modernisation.
“As we were such a few inhabitants in Abu Dhabi, Shaikh Zayed made the most out of us and assigned us several different roles, so more or less each one of us were members of committees, and board of directors of banks and departments. Many of us were involved in more than one job.
“Personally, I was on the board of the water and electricity company for about four years, helping to install generators, bringing electricity to the city, and piped water to houses,” he added.
“Shaikh Zayed was a visionary leader and he learnt so much from his experiences, and so we were very fortunate to have had him as our ruler. He was determined to improve the living standards for the inhabitants of the area, and he was also a very generous man, which really played a big role in the development of Abu Dhabi because he spared no effort,” he said.
Al Fahim said he always feels privileged everyday to see how far Abu Dhabi has come.
“I consider myself very lucky to have lived before all the modern development and to have been able to witness all the changes happening. It makes me very proud to see how much we have attained in such a short amount of time.”