Dubai's Deira Clock Tower to be revamped: How the iconic structure has been creating memories for over 6 decades

The oldest landmark in the city is powered by cutting-edge technology, featuring a high-tech dial


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Mon 15 May 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 15 May 2023, 6:14 PM

Deira Clock Tower, a timeless and iconic structure, has remained a symbol of Dubai's heritage. During my assignment for a Khaleej Times report in 2021, I had the opportunity to observe closely how this magnificent monument has continued to function flawlessly over six decades.

Despite its age, the Deira Clock Tower embraces cutting-edge technology. Its impressive dial showcases a high-tech design, while its internal mechanism boasts the latest advancements. Equipped with GPS sensors, the clock's machinery guarantees remarkable precision, ensuring accurate timekeeping for all who admire this historical landmark.

The clock tower was among the first few things I saw when I landed in Dubai back in 2000. I remember marvelling at the glowing structure well past midnight on April 27. As my father picked us up from the airport and drove us towards our residence in Karama, I recall him saying: "You must have seen a clock tower back in our hometown, but take a look at this one!"

The first thing I noticed was the water fountain. My father then drove a bit further and parked the car near Dnata building and it was a sight to behold. “Is that a clock on the top?” I asked, awestruck.

When the Dubai Municipality recently announced that it would begin restoration works on the landmark, the first thing I did was to take a look at the photos. Yes! They had retained the water fountains! What’s more, the civic body is planning to upgrade the fountain.

I can’t wait to check out the greenery and the multicoloured lights that will come up there.

We lived in Karama, however, whenever we visited Deira we took a moment to admire the clock tower. Now, several modern buildings have been constructed in the vicinity, regardless, the clock tower has remained constant and holds a special place in Dubai residents' hearts.

The iconic clock tower stands tall and casts a shadow of nostalgia. The clock does not just show the passage if time but also symbolises the changing face of the city.

There was a moment when the city's impeccable timekeeping record experienced a minor lapse. It happened when my brother keenly observed that one of the sides of the Deira Clock Tower displayed an incorrect time. Initially, the rest of our family dismissed it as a trivial oversight, but to our surprise, he was absolutely right. The time displayed on that particular side of the clock was indeed inaccurate. Two days later when we passed by the time machine, it had been fixed.

Soon after, there came a time when we had to leave the country and return home to India. Spotting the desolation on my brother's and my face, my father brought up the first time we saw the clock tower, saying, "The time is not right at the moment, but it will soon be right." He hinted at our return to the beloved Emirates.

These precious memories from my childhood will never be lost, especially those of the airport, clock tower, the opening of Al Maktoum Bridge, Shindagha Tunnel and Jumeirah Beach.

I came back to Dubai in 2015 and saw that the city had undergone a massive transformation. I did not witness the metamorphosis that my favourite city went through. The clock tower now looked more modern and the roundabout had expanded to accommodate more traffic.

History of the clock tower

Ticking for more than 58 years, the Deira Clock Tower the first internationally noted construction of Dubai.

Constructed in 1963 to celebrate the emirate's first oil exports, the clock tower became a major landmark in the city. The arches of the tower meet at the top to hold the clock at the centre. A water fountain was set up at the base of the structure.

It is said that the iconic clock which is sitting atop the structure was a gift to the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the then Ruler of Dubai.

The magnificent timepiece was the first connecting point for major roads leading to Dubai before major highways were constructed.

Serving as a gateway to Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, all major roads converged at the clock tower and created a link between Deira and Bur Dubai.

Earlier restorations

The concrete structure of the clock tower began to show signs of deterioration in the early 1970s, affected by corrosion from the saltiness of the beach sand used in its construction. Repairs were done to address this issue.

However, by 1982, the structure had deteriorated further, necessitating a complete rebuilding of the clock tower, along with extensive refurbishment of the clock.

As traffic in Dubai expanded rapidly, the clock tower was even moved a few meters to make way for an underpass.

The clock was changed in 2008 after the tower underwent significant changes. It was replaced with a new model from Omega, the name of the brand can be spotted above the clock's faces.

As Dubai continues to grow and expand, it is heartwarming to know that some things remain the same. The Deira clock tower serves as a reminder of the city's history and the memories that have been made here, and it will continue to be a beloved icon for generations to come.


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