The Trucial States, the land we now call the United Arab Emirates, was a barren environment in the early 1960’s and with no roads to connect the surrounding Emirates, 4x4s were the only way to get around. To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of Land Rover, an extraordinary film has been released, which documents the lives of two people who depended on Land Rovers on a daily basis.
With no roads, traveling between the Emirates was rough and dangerous and so for Dubai based civil engineer Robin Webb and Ras Al-Khaimah resident, Majed Awwad, the only option was a Land Rover.
Director Hind Shoufani, working with Mr. Webb’s nephew, Iain Akerman, has directed and produced "A Journey of Rediscovery," which tells Robin’s and Majed’s stories and their relationship with their Land Rovers. The film not only documents the days before the formation of the United Arab Emirates, but also pays tribute to seven decades of Land Rover by demonstrating how the trusted 4×4 played a role in their journey.
Majed Mohammed Awwad came to Ras Al-Khaimah through Egypt as a young Palestinian, in the 1960s to work as an advisor, before working in the local municipality.
"Whoever owned a Land Rover back then was considered very important. It was the only car capable of overcoming all challenges" Mr. Awwad said.
Mr. Webb designed and supervised the construction of some of the first roads in the Emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah as one of his final projects before leaving the Middle East in 1968.
"One of the great things about us doing engineering was that we had Land Rovers. We basically lived in Land Rovers the whole time. They were the most trusted off-road companions and the best way to connect people and states when few roads existed." Mr. Webb said.
Mr. Webb’s work in Dubai included constructing the souq wharf, extending the customs wharf and dredging Dubai Creek, while he was also called to work on jobs in Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al-Khaimah.
To get to the other Emirates from Dubai, he had to drive his Land Rover across the enormous sabkha flats at low tide, over sand dunes, along the hard-packed wet sand of the beaches and through the gravel plains.
"It’s almost unfathomable now to think how harsh the environment was in the United Arab Emirates not that long ago. Back then, having a Land Rover was literally a life saver in order to guarantee that you would safely get back home before nightfall," said Salman Sultan, Public Relations and Social Media Manager for Jaguar Land Rover MENA.
The film was shot entirely in the UAE and shows that although everything changes with time, memories remain to light the path forward. "A Journey of Rediscovery," brilliantly illustrates how Land Rover has been a part of Majed and Robin’s UAE excursions half a century ago and is another story in Jaguar Land Rover MENA’s #MYLAND initiative, (Ardhi in Arabic), which celebrates the impact of Arab culture on today’s modern world.
It shows the strong bond that exists between people and their 4x4s and confirms the key role Land Rover has played in developing the United Arab Emirates and the pride that Land Rover has with the region.