Photos: How Dubai's Toyota building stood tall as skyscrapers shot up along Sheikh Zayed Road

The iconic billboard reinstated on popular demand and brought back memories of bygone days

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Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Mon 27 Jun 2022, 8:04 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Jun 2022, 8:11 PM

The iconic red and white Toyota signboard has been reinstated on top of the Nasser Rashid Lootah Building on Sheikh Zayed Road and some residents couldn’t be happier.

“Something old has remained,” exclaimed Heidi Struiksma, who has been a resident of the area since 1994.

We take you down a nostalgic trip of how the 'Toyota building', as it popularly came to be known due to the signboard, and the areas around it has changed over the years.

Constructed in 1974, three years after the foundation of the UAE, the two-bloc Nasser Rashid Lootah Building is regarded as one of Dubai's first residential towers. This is one of the earliest photo of the building, when Sheikh Zayed Road was a two-lane street.

Photo credit: Heidi Struiksma
Photo credit: Heidi Struiksma

“The view from the building was amazing,” said Sobia Javid who lived in the building with her parents from 1998 until her marriage in 2002. “ You could see open sandy areas for miles and miles as there was nothing much around it. One of my most nostalgic memories is playing on the staircase and running from Block A to Block B of the building at all times to meet friends.”

After her first visit to Dubai in 1989, Heidi Struiksma fell in love with the city. She moved here into the Sheikh Zayed Road area in 1994, right across from the Toyota building.

This is a photo taken from her bedroom on her first day in the building vs a photo from the same place now. She has been living in the same apartment for 29 years.

During the rainy season, the areas around Toyota building would get flooded, as seen in this photo. “The sandy area used to get swamped,” said Sobia Javid. “One day our car was floating in the water. I have a vivid memory of it.”

Photo: Bernard Testa
Photo: Bernard Testa

The Sheikh Zayed Road has undergone several changes since its early days. The small roundabout in between a two-lane street was replaced with the Defense Roundabout. This then gave way to a flyover. In this photo we can see the construction of the road and bridges to Dubai Mall taking place in 2009.

From 1974, Toyota building has stood as a testimony amid the dizzying changes that Dubai has undergone. This photo shows the iconic structure against the backdrop of other buildings on Sheikh Zayed Road that has rendered the OG skyscraper short.

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