In 1976 I was filming in the United Arab Emirates for UPITN. I was interested in the issue of foodstuffs to the resident Bedouin and the tribesmen living in the surrounding desert. They had a monthly allowance of rice, sugar and flour.
The rations consisted of a 56lb of rice, 25lb of flour and 10lb of sugar. These were provided at minimal cost and represented the allowance for one month to each family. One supposes that, if there was an exceptionally large family, they would receive more.
We set about filming everything in sight. In the ration shop, we actually got the locals to “act”. I wanted to show how they collected their rations. We got them to re-enact ordering the goods and then paying for them. When it came to loading the rice onto a Land Rover, a giant gentleman from the Indian sub-continent walked out with the bag over his shoulder and threw it onto the back of the Land Rover as if it was a bag of feathers. Born actors all.
The sun shone all day. I said to the crew that my definition of a sinecure would be the meteorological officer in Abu Dhabi. The Temperature rose to around thirty-eight degrees in the shade, except that there was not any shade to be had. We looked around and suddenly found ourselves alone in the village. Not a soul to be seen. We were now well aware of the intense heat and we looked at each other and spontaneously broke into song: “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, (pause to recall)… The Chinese wouldn’t care to, The Japanese wouldn’t dare to…..”. that’s as far as we got.
We would normally start our day of filming at first light and work till about midday. We would return to the hotel, if possible, and have a siesta until about 3.30pm. Then we would be off again filming until the light faded.
In the evening, we would go to a local restaurant for dinner.
Further reading: The Emirates in 1976 – A “time bomb” and a Bedouin village
Next chapter: Chapter 74: Dining out on location can be dangerous…