21st January 2023

DASA: The Early Years

Join us as we discuss the history of one of the first moving agencies in the UAE – DASA.

The company was formed in 1979 in a two-bedroom apartment on the corner of a dusty, sandy road that led to the only port in an incredibly quiet Abu Dhabi at the time. This two-bed apartment was then converted into an office, with our name, DASA advertised on a neon billboard outside the office, which helped the company name to spread rapidly.

Abu Dhabi in 1979 (Source: Facebook)

Abu Dhabi – 1970

1979 was a bustling year for Abu Dhabi, the former Queen of the UK, Queen Elizabeth II, had just made her state visit aboard her yacht the Royal Britannica.

As imagined, Abu Dhabi, was not the glamourous tourist dream it is now, the Hilton Abu Dhabi was the only 5-star hotel open, with no shopping malls, only souks and small stores such as Spinneys or a small supermarket that sold international papers which were a few days old, but at a time before the internet, who were we to complain, this was how we kept up with life in the UK whilst we were in the “Sandpit.”

Over time, our reputation in Abu Dhabi grew significantly. Within a few months, our company became a prominent player in the logistics sector. This was partly due to Abu Dhabi’s relatively small and burgeoning market at the time. In 1980, as we celebrated our first anniversary, there was a noticeable uptick in business. We went from coordinating forty flights of live sheep for Ramadan, arriving from Romania to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah airports, to managing the transportation of 60 tons of oil field equipment from Istanbul to Dubai. The year 1980 marked a turning point for us, with a surge in work volume and the initiation of “special contracts.”


1981 was a year full of challenges, we had been approached to transport a baby Jumbo elephant and professional handler from the UK to Dubai and then to Doha, Qatar. Back then, there were no wide-body aircraft travelling directly to Qatar, so this move was tricky. We had to import the elephant to Dubai and then transport it via road overnight to avoid the hot desert temperatures.

After the stress of moving the elephant, we were then successful in our bid, which would turn out to be the highest-risk movement we ever did to date. We were contracted to relocate, half an acre of freshly planted flowers and four palm trees to a gardening exhibition in Osaka, Japan. To highlight the size of this move, it was half a football pitch of planted flowers.

After severe flooding in 1982, the UAE took a small boom and travel agencies began to settle in, shipping agencies began to arise and global names such as DANZAS were formed. We obtained various agencies for air cargo which became the backbone of our company. This led us to gain agency agreements for several air carriers from British Airways to Lufthansa, and then Emirates.

blankFlooding in Abu Dhabi, 1982 (Source Facebook)

Due to the increasing workload, we then utilized the empty offices below and opened our first warehouse which was the perfect space to package moves. The increased traffic In AD allowed us to move from shipping to home moves and office relocations, which eventually led to international relocations. To begin, my wife Colette would conduct the surveys, with myself occasionally joining her.

In 1984, we were then tasked with our biggest move, to manage the relocation of the Head Office of the Bank of Abu Dhabi and the Commercial Bank of Dubai.   We believe this gave us our reputation as a relocation expert in the early 80s.

Forward a few years and by chance whilst, in Paris, I managed to meet the GM of Global Silverhawk International Moving (a global player in shipping and moving), whilst he was checking in at a hotel. After some long chats, we managed to obtain agency work for his company in the US. This then lined up work for the next few years, until the Gulf War in the early 90s.

To see a timeline of DASA visit here: www.dasagoingbeyond.com