Rare aerial photos of UAE on sale for half a million dirhams

The aerial photographs of the Emirates are a star piece of their exhibition at the SIBF, which is currently running its 42nd edition at the Expo Centre Sharjah

By Husna Murad

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Published: Thu 2 Nov 2023, 7:23 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Nov 2023, 12:03 PM

Rare, original aerial photographs of the UAE, taken soon after the country was formed are up for sale for a whopping Dh500,000 at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).

Unreleased until now, the previously classified photographs are the earliest and most detailed aerial survey captured between 1975 and 1977.


Titled the ‘Only surviving set of the original aerial survey of the UAE’, the collection has each photograph marked with its date and approximate altitude.

“This was unrecorded. It was classified for the army’s use only,” a spokesperson for the exhibition. Used by the Emirati military, the collection played a big part in the early mapping of the desert region. With topographical study being difficult, aerial surveillance made it easier for the newly founded Union to keep a record of their land.


According to the exhibitor, the collection is hoped to be sold to government ministries, universities, or museums.

“We value our items based on previous value on similar things and how rare they are. On how difficult it is to find something like this,” said the spokesperson.

The complete collection is currently owned by three companies- UAE-based EQTNA, Austrian Antiquariaat INLIBRIS and Antiquariaat FORUM from the Netherlands. The companies are known for their rare books on astronomy and science, maps, and one-of-a-kind photographs including an original signed portrait of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan from 1970.

The aerial photographs of the Emirates are a star piece of their exhibition at the SIBF, which is currently running its 42nd edition at the Expo Centre Sharjah.

Known globally as one of the largest book fairs, the SIBF attracts an international audience with its wide range of programmes.

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