A Happy 60th Anniversary to our Club! As part of our celebrations and to honour this expectational milestone, we take a trip down memory lane on when and how The Club was established.
The Club was founded by a group of pioneering expatriates in 1962 and was established nine years before the federation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971 – we’re basically older than the UAE!
The Club ‘house’ first began in Henderson’s Folly, a small building on the beach, located approx. 500m away from where we are now situated. The name is derived from Edward Henderson, a British SAS officer who would stay there when visiting Abu Dhabi from Dubai to meet the ruler at that time Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan. By the late 1950s, British Political Agents had no use for it and so a small group of ex-pats took over in 1962.
The Club held its first event: a pirate-themed party hosted by six ex-pats, one of them Edna Green who described the need for a place to socialise, especially with the growing number of bachelors in the city, temporary or otherwise, it made sense for them to have a place to go in the evenings, instead of imposing on married friends and colleagues.
The founders formed a committee and talked to H.H. Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was supportive of their idea. With only 25 members, to begin with, they persuaded a construction company to build a tennis court and a rough concrete platform at the Folly and so the official Club was born.
By 1967 the membership was growing too large for its current location, and concerns were rising over a port being built close by. Mike Daly, who was to become Chairman in 1968, had already initiated discussions on the possibility of obtaining land for a new Club site when H.H. The President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan graciously granted the plot of land where The Club stands today.
The last decision to be made was the name, a Member simply suggested ‘The Club’, as it was inoffensive and inclusive of all nationalities, so it remained. On June 13th, 1968, The Club membership moved everything to our current site and by September 1968 there were over 200 Members. 60 years later, over 35,000 Full Members have walked through The Club’s gates.
If you would like to read more about the history of The Club, please visit The Library and read our 50th-anniversary book, which has plenty of stories on our humble beginnings.