Dubai’s Clock Tower History
History of Dubai’s Clock Tower has never been clearly defined. There are no public records so much of Dubai’s Clock Tower’s history is gathered from people who were in Dubai in 1960s and knew the people involved in the Clock Tower’s design and construction. Their memories of those times and events form the basis of this unofficial Clock Tower History . This History may change in the future as and when more information becomes available.
Why was the Clock Tower built?
Sheikh Ahmed of Qatar was Sheikh Rashid’s Son-in-Law. In the early 1960s Sheikh Ahmed gave Sheikh Rashid a large Clock as a Gift. In fact was a very, very large Clock. Sheikh Rashid did not know what to do with such a large Clock! So he sought advice from my predecessor, Mr Bulart, who had just completed designing Zabeel Palace for Sheikh Rashid.
Sheikh Rashid instructed Otto Bulart to design a monument in the newly built roundabout, where the new bridge approach road diverted from the Airport Road. Al Maktoum Bridge opened 1963 so 1964 sounds to be the correct date for the Clock Tower’s construction.
The Clock Tower layout was Bulart’s design but the structural calculation (reinforced concrete) was by Engineer Ziki Homsi who was working in partnership with Otto Bulart. Mr Bulart did not build the Clock Tower.
Dubai’s Clock Tower was constructed towards the end on the construction of Jisr al Maktoum [Al Maktoum Bridge]. Basically, the roundabout was the essential wheel in the cogs leading to the Clock Tower. There was then only one surfaced road in Dubai. That road lead from Sheikh Ahmed’s Palace [by Dubai Creek] to Sheikh Rashid’s Zabeel Palace. This existing road would link to a new Al Maktoum Bridge road which would run over the Bridge. The other end of the Al Maktoum Bridge road would end at the Deira/Sharjah road, which then was only a graded sand road. The Clock Tower would be both a roundabout filler and an emblem at this important intersection as the other roads would in time be surfaced. The Clock Tower was referred to as “Bulart’s Folly in the early days. The clock was not on it then.”
Building Dubai’s Clock Tower
Ziki Homsi is credited with building the Clock Tower. Dubai’s Clock Tower was a complex structure requiring finance, considerable resources and manpower to build it. At that time there was only one Construction Contractor – Khansaheb – who had the capabilities to build a project of that size. Ziki Homsi acknowledged this shortage of capable Contractors and decided on a “Do It Yourself” approach
That a complex project, as Dubai’s Clock Tower was, could be built without major resources is a remarkable achievement. Dubai’s Clock Tower was completed by the end of 1965 according to Ziki Homsi. There are no official records on the Clock Tower’s construction. There appears to have been no official opening of Dubai’s Clock Tower.
Around 1982, Dubai’s Clock Tower Roundabout became an obstacle to Dubai’s growing road traffic. An underpass providing a direct route Hamriyah was built plus additional roads for traffic heading for Deira and the Airport.
At first the Clock Tower was only referred to only as “The Clock Tower”, its name omitting any reference to its location. As Dubai grew it started to be referred to as Dubai Clock Tower and now latterly as Deira Clock Tower. The Clock Tower’s location was originally the only entry point for visitors arriving in Dubai. Now visitors arrive from many points of entry