Dubai: Reading a newspaper from 1978 would be nostalgic for anyone. Especially so for Jamal Al Mawed who ordered a first edition of Gulf News when a familiar six-digit phone number in the classified ads, caught his attention. The number had been long engraved in his mind and immediately brought back memories of a time before mobile phones when he’d dial that exact number to reach his father’s office.
“I ordered the first ever edition of Gulf News newspaper from 1978 to hang in the Gambit PR and Communications office and found a nice surprise,” Jamal shares in a post on social media. “My father’s business, The Polyglot Language Institute was an advertiser! Over 40 years ago!”
The Emirati national is the Founder and Managing Director of Gambit Communications, a PR agency headquartered in Dubai that handles many high profile and multinational brands. He had ordered the first edition hoping to add some interesting wall decorations at his office when he came across the ad that transported him back to his childhood.
He tells Gulf News, “I was reading the old paper and enjoying all the stories from the 70s when I noticed a number that didn’t have a 04 extension and only six-digits, that’s how the Dubai numbers were. I immediately recognised it as my father’s office number at the institute.”
The Polyglot Language Institute still exists today in Bani Yas Square, Dubai Creek and is owned by Jamal’s father, Mohammed Al Mawed. It was founded in 1969, before the union of the UAE, and it holds the Ministry of Education’s first license as the oldest specialised educational institute in Dubai. It specialises in teaching various languages, computer literacy, secretarial and typing courses. Mohammed Al Mawed, Jamal’s father, is a UAE National of Palestinian origin who came to Dubai in 1973 to start a career in construction and engineering. In his evenings he would go to the Polyglot Language Institute to study typing and to work as a part-time assistant to the manager before eventually acquiring the business alongside his wife Diana Al Mawed in 1980.
The Al Mawed family have been longtime readers of Gulf News and Mohammed Al Mawed shares his pride when the advertisement was found, “You cannot talk about the history of the UAE without mentioning Gulf News, which we have been reading in the office and at home since the first issue. I had completely forgotten about the classified ads and that’s why I was so proud when Jamal showed it to me. It was interesting to read the news that was running back in 1978 and to remember those times when Dubai was much smaller.”
His son Jamal echoes the sentiment, “The most interesting part of reading that first edition newspaper is seeing how the Dubai Creek area where my father’s institute is located, was considered the centre of the city. Now we call it Old Dubai.”
The Polyglot Institute holds a dear place in Mohammed Al Mawed’s heart which is why stumbling upon that old advertisement brought back many memories, “Over the past 50 years thousands and thousands of students have passed through these doors, and as a lifelong educator I have been proud to meet my Polyglot students all over the world. I recall a beautiful moment sitting in a small café in my wife’s hometown of Royal Tunbridge Wells in England, when a gentleman came to my table and asked, ‘Are you Principal Mohammed from Polyglot?’. He was our student from over thirty years ago and we both had tears in our eyes from a reunion in such an unexpected place.”