January 6, 2013
Scouting arrived early in the UAE. The movement was founded by Robert Baden Powell in 1907 and reached Sharjah in 1954.
This week’s photograph was taken in Abu Dhabi in 1974 by the French photographer Jack Burlots. The location is probably Hamdan Street, one of the first roads to be developed in the modern city. The two young scouts are joining others for a trip on an American made Chevrolet school bus, painted red rather than the familiar yellow. Then, as now, the young scouts were required to promise, on their honour, to do their duty towards “Allah, country and help others in all situations, and to know and obey scout law.” Arab scouts actually celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2012, with the first association in the region founded in Lebanon. While the movement is worldwide, the 6,400 scouts in the UAE can earn badges for falconry and poetry as well as more tradition activities like camping.
Writing in 2008, Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasami, the Ruler of Sharjah and one of those pioneering young scouts from the ‘50s, wrote: “To the leaders of all scout movements worldwide, who have kept their promise, we say: ‘ you are doing one of the noblest and influential jobs by providing constructive education to the young people.’ “