In Abu Dhabi, we were promised a guide, or an interpreter, but no one ever turned up.
We found a small village on the road from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. It is called Al Kasnah and, by now, it is probably a sizeable town. As we turned off the road, we could see a shack built of corrugated iron sheets. It appeared to be some kind of road house, serving food and drink. It was the sort of place that we would never enter even if we were starving.
In the village, we searched for someone in authority to announce what we were doing and what we required. There was little sign of life and this was nine o’clock in the morning.
A scruffy looking man approached us and invited us to take lunch at his “restaurant”, the Greasy Mack’s tin shed , we had seen up on the highway. He offered bacon and eggs. We declined.
I went to the school, and found that it was in use and there were children and teachers to be seen in the classrooms.
I went inside and I was met by a male teacher. He was quite tall and he spoke English, well, after a fashion, but it was considerably better than my Arabic which was restricted to saying left, right and straight ahead “Yasar, yemin and cida”.
When I told him that we were making a film for the government and we wished to film the village, he got into something of a panic. He was an Egyptian and was, effectively, under the control of the elders of the village.
He said he would have to go off and find the chief elder. He was gone a while.
By the time he had returned, there was a small crowd gathered outside the school. We were introduced to the chief elder and we were then invited into a large office attached to the school. In the office was a middle aged woman who seemed to be in charge of the school, but may not have been a teacher.
She, who also spoke English, said that the villages insisted that we have lunch with them.
The Egyptian teacher told us that the delay was due to the fact that there was a heated discussion about who was going to feed us.
We were sat down surrounded by about thirty of the villagers. We were then served goat which, although the taste was quite good, was tough and difficult to chew and swallow. Somehow, we managed to get through it. We were then offered dessert which was a tin of pineapple rings served in the opened can with a fork to eat with.
It was an interesting experience but, it was now lunchtime and we had not shot a foot of film.
Further reading: The Emirates in 1976 – A “time bomb” and a Bedouin village