Sharjah: Have you ever wondered how life was back in the 1970s?
An Emirati collector has put on display his personal memorabilia, including vintage TV sets, transistor radios, vinyl records, antique telephones and a sundry of tokens and memento at Sharjah Heritage Days (SHD), running at the historic Heart of Sharjah district until April 10. Emirati Saeed Ahmad Al Kashri, 56, said he had been collecting household and miscellaneous items since the 1970s. Housed in a traditional Emirati home or Areesh, he said visitors at SHD would surely experience a sense of nostalgia for the older generation and the exhibits are certain to evoke curiosity among the younger ones.
Al Kashri’s collection also include miscellaneous items, including jewellery chests, trunk boxes, analogue alarm clocks, soda bottles, biscuit boxes as well as household staples such as sewing machines and kitchen implements.
Al Kashri, a teacher-turned-librarian, has been collecting these articles for the last 25 years. He said: “Most of them are sourced from my extended family and others from neighbours and acquaintances. Browsing through the collections is a fascinating experience. I have old transistor radio sets, HMV record players and an 8-track double cassette deck that sit next to stacks of retro bakelite light switches, cassette and cartridge tapes and rotary dial telephone sets.”
Old is gold
There are glass cases that also display Al Kashri’s own well-preserved school notebooks from the 1980s, with images of Sheikh Zayed on the cover, next to Oman and Kuwait currency notes and a wall of school memorabilia, vintage school satchels, canvas lace-up shoes and water bottles sporting the UAE flag and emblem. There are also old sweet tins, cigarette boxes. Vintage soda bottles jostle for space along with the first soft drink bottles in the UAE.
Al Kashri shares an interesting anecdote about a Player’s Gold Leaf tobacco tin. “Back in the days when we had no PO boxes, a few neighbourhood stores kept this tin and the postman would drop off mail for the residents of that locality in it.”
A third room displays more household items that offer an insight into Emirati life and its unique social customs and fabrics. Traditional jewellery, mandoos chests, vintage vanity cases, bukhoor burners, prayer mats, old glass-and-enamel wall art and wooden cradles sit next to some popular brands from the past such as Brilliantine hair cream, Attari Brothers perfume, Tibet talcum powder, Jasmine hair oil etc.
“My mother would always say: ‘Don’t throw them away because you don’t know if you will see these things again’ and she was right,” said Al Kashri, whose sons are also avid collectors.
According to SHD organisers, “the make and brands of these items are instantly recognisable to any Emirati or Arab who remembers the last two or three decades of the 20th century. Some of the collectibles will also be familiar to visitors from the subcontinent such as brands that were imported here and popular among Gulf citizens and residents”.
“Walking through Al Kashri’s household full of items is an immersive nostalgic trip, one that will take visitors down memory lane — of their own childhood or that of their parents’ recollection of what life was like in the early decades of the UAE federation,” the organisers added.