Britain and the Formation of the UAE
Past international programme archive
16 March - 26 March 2021
Etihad Museum (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Queen Elizabeth II
by Cecil Beaton
An exploration of the formation of the United Arab Emirates through the display of key political figures featured in the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection. The exhibition demonstrates the importance of photography to the nation through a story of its leaders who were instrumental in the development of Dubai and the close relationship between the UK and UAE. These include photographs by Cecil Beaton and Eve Arnold, featuring some of the most celebrated works of the Gallery from the 20th century.
The portraits cover a range of elements throughout the creation of the nation, from Britain’s withdrawal from the Seven Emirates and the union in 1971. Photographs of Prime Ministers Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath explore their differing priorities and stances on British involvement in the UAE.
The inclusion of Queen Elizabeth II acknowledges her influential role in fostering a positive relationship with Emirati rulers, representative of her impact on Britain’s International affairs.
Following the end of Britain’s formal presence in the Gulf, the late Ruler of Dubai Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum was responsible for the improvement of the economy and the development of the country as a regional hub for trade. His portraits represent the significant role he played in the creation of modern day Dubai.
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