Peter Hellyer: Memories of my mentor

His dedicated work on the UAE and it’s rich history which will live on

By Ali Iqbal Chaudhry

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Ali Iqbal Chaudhry with Peter Hellyer
Ali Iqbal Chaudhry with Peter Hellyer

Published: Tue 4 Jul 2023, 12:15 AM

Like so many of us, I received the news of Peter Hellyer’s passing with great sadness. Peter was a tremendous man and a great soul; his knowledge of the UAE and its history was extremely vast, and best of all, he was keen to share it with everyone. These are my own thoughts and reflections.

My own work with him started as an email some years ago when I questioned him on one of his articles relating to the second world war. Peter didn’t know me then, but immediately responded to my “out of the blue” message and asked me to do further research and get back to him. I followed his instructions, which developed over time and led us to discover and publish several unknown historical anecdotes of the UAE and chronicle the UAE's history during the second world war. In addition, I had the privilege of co-writing two papers with him, with absolutely no experience.


Peter was a gifted mentor and made you realise your own potential. He also had great patience; he was always busy with his own work, yet took time out to help me with my own research, as I am sure he did for many, many others. His own anecdotes about life in the early UAE and his beloved Jersey were very informative and cast a lens into a world we can only read about.

It is sometimes very difficult to identify those who sowed the seeds that eventually become a tree, but it is very clear to us in Peter and his dedicated work on the UAE, and it’s rich history which will continue to live on.


My thoughts today are with his family and with those of us in the Emirates and around the world whom he touched with his inspiration, knowledge, and dedication. He will, I am certain, be remembered by all of us and by those to come, as he was part of the very fabric woven into the History, Culture and Heritage of the UAE, and his work and legacy, which has inspired so many of us, will continue.

My Dear Friend Peter, Thank you.

Ali Iqbal Chaudhry, historian and researcher.


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