United Arab Emirates

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The federation of the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) borders Saudi Arabia to the south of the Persian Gulf, in the Middle East. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the two major cities in the UAE - the country is usually identified in BBC records under those names rather than as the UAE.


Country Number (36) 1975? SECOND WAVE
Region Middle East
Television commenced August 1969
Colour System January 1974 PAL
Population 1976 210,000
TV Sets 1974 16,000
Language/s Arabic and English

Television Stations / Channels

Screen grab of Channel 33 ident from 1987
Screen grab of Channel 33 ident from 1987

The United Arab Emirates was officially formed on 2 December 1972, with Abu Dhabi and Dubai among its members.

Prior to this, Abu Dhabi had its own monochrome television service, a government-owned commercial broadcaster, which had launched on 6 August 1969 and was subsequently available on channels 5, 6, 7, 11 and 35, 48.

Dubai's own monochrome television service launched in 1972 on Channel 10.

When the UAE was established the Abu Dhabi station became the national television service – United Arab Emirates Television Service - broadcasting on channels 10 and 2. Both channels offered a mixture of mainly Arabic and some English programming.

PAL colour was introduced on 4 January 1974 on Channels 10 and 2. A black and white service continued to operate from Dubai.

In mid-1977, the now-named Dubai Radio and Colour Television launched UHF Channel 33, which was an English-only station. From mid-1978 during the early evening, the VHF Channel 10 synced with Channel 33 to play the same English programming. (This synchronisation would have included Doctor Who.)

A third schedule on channel 41, was also introduced by 1977.


The principal languages are Arabic and English. TV programming was often simulcast in both languages.


الدكتور هو

The UAE was the 36th purchaser of Doctor Who (see Selling Doctor Who).

The Emirates was one of the first countries to be sold the Tom Baker stories.

It was also one of the very small number of countries to screen Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker AND Sylvester McCoy stories.

BBC Records

Although the United Arab Emirates is not named as such in BBC Records, it is recorded under either "Abu Dhabi" or "Dubai".

A BBC memo dated 10 December 1973 records Abu Dhabi as one of the countries to which episodes "dubbed into Arabic" had been sold.

In April 1973, BBC Managing Director, Huw Wheldon, spoke of seeing "Dr Who dubbed into Arabic". This comment may have actually been in reference to his having seen some of the Hartnell stories dubbed into Arabic rather than recently-dubbed Pertwees.

But if it was Pertwees that he saw, this would certainly have included AAA, KKK, and possibly also PPP, QQQ, RRR and SSS although the latter two had not yet screened in the UK at that time. (See the Arabic and WRTH pages for more on this.)

The Seventies records a sale of "(22)" stories to Dubai by 28 February 1977. This 1977 memo records Dubai twice for AAA, so the correct total is actually only 21: AAA, KKK, RRR, PPP, QQQ, SSS, UUU, XXX, YYY, ZZZ, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 4F, 4G, 4H, 4J, 4K, and 4L.

The Eighties - THE LOST CHAPTERS records a sale of "(1)" story to Abu Dhabi, and "(37)" to Dubai (by 10 February 1987). The single Abu Dhabi sale applies to AAA.

In DWM, Dubai is identified under 25 story Archives: the same nine Pertwees as above, but not XXX; and the same 11 Tom Bakers as above, plus: 4M, 4N, 4P, 4Q, and 4R. The year of sales is given as 1975, 1976, 1977 or 1978.

Abu Dhabi is not named in any of the DWM story Archives.

The Dubai total of "(37)" would apply to the ten Pertwees, plus 27 Bakers - which takes the tally up to the middle of season 16 (a point at which there was indeed a screening break between 1979 and 1980). Or alternatively, the total is only for the Bakers, which takes the tally up to the middle of season 18; and indeed season 18 screened during late 1986.

In a January 1979 TV interview on Pebble Mill, Baker said he was big star in Abu Dhabi, a claim he later repeated in his 1997 autobiography, Who on Earth is Tom Baker? (pages 195 and 257).

Stories bought and broadcast


Ten stories, 48 episodes:

AAA Spearhead from Space 4
KKK Day of the Daleks 4
PPP Carnival of Monsters 4
RRR The Three Doctors 4
QQQ Frontier in Space 6
SSS Planet of the Daleks 6
UUU The Time Warrior 4
XXX Death to the Daleks 4
YYY The Monster of Peladon 6
ZZZ Planet of the Spiders 6

UAE therefore bought the standard limited package of available PAL colour Jon Pertwee stories, from GROUPs A, C, D and E.

The programme was supplied as PAL colour video tapes with English soundtracks. The video tape of part one of Death to the Daleks that was returned from Dubai in 1991 (see below) is marked as having been despatched to Dubai on 14 November 1974.

It appears that the Emirates may have been the only foreign country to screen Planet of the Daleks in colour!

Other BBC records indicate that Spearhead from Space was also purchased by "Abu Dhabi" in October 1976, while The Three Doctors was purchased by "Dubai" for a repeat in late 1977. It's possible these two "repeats" were broadcast in preparation of the series transfer to the English-only Channel 33 in 1978?

Curiously, around the same time Saudi Arabia cancelled its own purchase of The Three Doctors. Although Saudi was broadcasting in black and white, were they perhaps instead supplied with video tape? And since the tapes would have been already in circulation in the region did Dubai "buy out" Saudi's cancelled purchase?

Origin of the Tapes

Huw Wheldon mentions viewing episodes of "Dr Who dubbed into Arabic" in early 1973.

Since UAE only got the available full colour serials from Pertwees first three seasons on PAL video tape, and if some had been dubbed into Arabic in early 1973, it would seem that the original PAL master tapes of the other Pertwee stories had already been wiped by then. Invasion of the Dinosaurs was also not supplied to UAE; again, the master tapes were not available at that time because they had been wiped in August 1974.


41 stories, 172 episodes:

Seats of Doom (sic) – 11 June 1977
Generic Thursday listing October 1977
Generic Thursday listing October 1977
Generic Thursday listing November 1977 - note Dr Who (or) Family Affair
Generic listing 1977 – note Dr Who (or) Family Affair
Generic listing January 1978
Generic Thursday listing July 1978
Meglos – 20 May 1986
Generic listing 27 May 1986 – NOTE Channel numbers 2-10-41 are incorrect; should be Channel 33
Generic listing June 1986
The Keeper of Traken – 18 November 1986
The Keeper of Trake (sic) - 9 December 1986
The Visitation listing 23 December 1986 – should be The Keeper of Traken?
4A Robot 4
4B The Sontaran Experiment 2
4C The Ark in Space 4
4E Genesis of the Daleks 6
4D Revenge of the Cybermen 4
4F Terror of the Zygons 4
4H Planet of Evil 4
4G Pyramids of Mars 4
4J The Android Invasion 4
4K The Brain of Morbius 4
4L The Seeds of Doom 6
4M The Masque of Mandragora 4
4N The Hand of Fear 4
4P The Deadly Assassin 4
4Q The Face of Evil 4
4R The Robots of Death 4
4S The Talons of Weng-Chiang 6

These episodes would have been supplied as PAL colour video tapes with English soundtracks.

4V Horror of Fang Rock 4
4T The Invisible Enemy 4
4X Image of the Fendahl 4
4W The Sun Makers 4
4Y Underworld 4
4Z The Invasion of Time 6
5A The Ribos Operation 4
5B The Pirate Planet 4
5C The Stones of Blood 4
5D The Androids of Tara 4
5E The Power of Kroll 4
5F The Armageddon Factor 6
5J Destiny of the Daleks 4
5H City of Death 4
5G The Creature from the Pit 4
5K Nightmare of Eden 4
5L The Horns of Nimon 4
5N The Leisure Hive 4
5Q Meglos 4
5R Full Circle 4
5P State of Decay 4
5S Warriors' Gate 4
5T The Keeper of Traken 4
5V Logopolis 4

These episodes would have been supplied as PAL colour video tapes with English soundtracks.

UAE therefore bought all of the Tom Baker stories.


Sixteen stories, equivalent 60 episodes:

5Z Castrovalva 4
5W Four to Doomsday 4
5Y Kinda 4
5X The Visitation 4
6A Black Orchid 2
6B Earthshock 4
6C Time-Flight 4
6D Snakedance 4
6E Arc of Infinity 4
6F Mawdryn Undead 4
6G Terminus 4
6H Enlightenment 4
6J The King's Demons 2
6N Frontios 4
6P Resurrection of the Daleks 4
6R The Caves of Androzani 4

UAE therefore bought all of GROUP A and B only part of GROUP B of the Peter Davison stories.

The programme was supplied as PAL colour video tapes with English soundtracks.

Four stories were not acquired: The Five Doctors (several other countries also skipped the 20th anniversary story); Warriors of the Deep (it is not known why this would have been passed over); The Awakening (with the story set in and around a Christian church, it may have been rejected by the Islamic censors); and Planet of Fire (possibly banned by the censors due to partial female nudity).


Equivalent of 11 stories, 44 half-hour episodes:

6S The Twin Dilemma 4
6T Attack of the Cybermen 4
6V Vengeance on Varos 4
6W The Two Doctors 6
6X The Mark of the Rani 4
6Y Timelash 4
6Z Revelation of the Daleks 4
7A The Trial of a Time Lord 14

UAE therefore bought all of the Colin Baker stories.

The programme was supplied as PAL colour video tapes with English soundtracks.


Eight stories, 28 episodes, not screened in correct order:

7E Paradise Towers 4
7G Dragonfire 3
7F Delta and the Bannermen 3
7D Time and the Rani 4
7H Remembrance of the Daleks 4
7K Silver Nemesis 3
7L The Happiness Patrol 3
7J The Greatest Show in the Galaxy 4

UAE therefore bought GROUPs A and B the Sylvester McCoy stories.

The programme was supplied as PAL colour video tapes with English soundtracks.

There is no indication that the UAE bought season 26.



We have been unable to ascertain when the Pertwee episodes screened; with 48 episodes to account for, that's just short of an entire year, if screenings were non-stop.

The ten Pertwee serials would not have aired earlier than the introduction of colour in January 1974. We are certain that the series didn't air in March, April or May of 1976, as newspapers were checked for those months, and there were no billings for Doctor Who at that time. There were no TV listings at all in the papers from May 1976 to June 1977.

Existing BBC sales documentation records that the serials had each been "sold" on different dates between March and June 1975; NOTE, these dates merely record that a sale had taken place, not the actual date that a contract had been signed.

Also on record is that the video tapes of Death to the Daleks were despatched to Dubai by the BBC on 14 November 1974; presumably the other serials were sent at or around the same time, giving weight to the run starting in late 1974.

So, assuming the Pertwee run of 48 episodes had already concluded by March 1976, the start date of the run would have been during the final few months of 1974 or first few months of 1975. Therefore, the bulk of the ten Pertwees must have aired during the first half of 1975.

Although the episodes aired on the Arabic-language Channel 10, they were broadcast in English, so presumably there was also an Arabic narration transmitted at the same time (on the radio?). (When some of the tapes were returned to the BBC in 1991, they were in English – see below.)

Both Planet of the Daleks and Frontier in Space would have screened in colour making the UAE screenings some of the few for those two stories in the PAL format (see also Brunei).

If the BBC's records are accurate, the UAE was the first foreign country to screen Planet of the Spiders.

Abu Dhabi purchased a separate screening of Spearhead from Space in late 1976. This "repeat" on Channel 5 / 11 may have screened in English only.

Other BBC records indicate that a repeat of The Three Doctors was purchased by "Dubai" by late 1977, and there is certainly a window of four episodes at the tail end of the Tom Baker run in 1977 to accommodate this repeat. Again, it's possible that this second screening was broadcast in English – and was maybe a way of re-introducing the series to audiences in readiness for the series' move to the English-only Channel 33 in 1978?

Fate of the Tapes

PAL colour video tapes including episodes from The Three Doctors, Planet of the Daleks (4-6 only), Death to the Daleks and Planet of the Spiders were returned to the BBC in 1991. The BBC had previously wiped its own copy of Death to the Daleks part one (it held only an edited PAL copy from Australia and a poor NTSC to PAL conversion from tapes sourced from North America), so that episode's return from Dubai meant the BBC once again had a complete copy of the serial in PAL.

The fact that these returned tapes were in English indicates that if the stories had been fully dubbed or had accompanying Arabic narrations, the Arabic soundtracks were done as separate tracks rather than being dubbed onto the actual tapes themselves.


We have not been able to ascertain when the Baker episodes commenced, but these would have aired on Channel 10.

The first billing for Doctor Who that we found was for The Seeds of Doom in the Emirates News edition for Saturday, 11 June 1977. This was followed by nine further episodes, with the run ending on 13 August 1977. Assuming the first billing for The Seeds of Doom is for part one, this run may have concluded with a repeat of The Three Doctors rather than a four part Baker serial.

Part one of The Seeds of Doom is the 89th episode; part one of Robot would have been the 49th. If the Baker episodes aired in an uninterrupted block, then working backwards from 11 June 1977, the Tom Baker era may have commenced in September 1976. If so, UAE was therefore one of the first four foreign countries to screen the Tom Baker stories (it would have been the first to screen Pyramids of Mars).

The timeslot given was 7.00 to 8.05pm, however this does not appear to indicate a double episode; instead the listings are for only the English programming – Arabic programmes during the same hour are not included.

The series returned two months later, on Thursday, 13 October 1977 at 7.05pm. It played back to back with a series called "Family Affair" – see TV listings below for more on this.

(At this same time, the ARAMCO base in Saudi Arabia was screening a long run of black and white Jon Pertwee episodes, which would have been able to be viewed in the UAE.)

From 8 January 1978, the series moved to Sundays at 7.00pm, in a half-hour slot.

The 26 week run ended on 26 March 1978. None of the episodes were titled, but with The Seeds of Doom screening in the previous block, then these 26 episodes would most probably have been season 14 – The Masque of Mandragora to The Talons of Weng-Chiang.

Three months later, the series was back – but now on the recently-launched English-only Channel 33. (Doctor Who would have also been available on Channel 10 as both channels were synced to air the same early evening English language programming.)

The first Channel 33 episode was on Thursday, 15 June 1978, at 7.25pm. From 17 August the time moved to 7.40pm. From 20 October 1978, the series shifted to Fridays, at the earlier time of 6.30pm.

From 16 January 1979, the series moved to Tuesdays 6.30pm, shifting to 6.20pm a few weeks later.

The run ended after 42 weeks on 3 April 1979. Again, no titles were given, but the run would have potentially ended with part four of The Androids of Tara.

Viewers had to wait 17 months to see the conclusion to the "Key to Time" series; the next block of episodes commenced on Sunday, 28 September 1980 at 5.50pm. A second weekly episode aired on Tuesdays, at 6.10pm. There was no episode on 2 December 1980, as that was the Emirates' "National Day" (celebrating eight years since the formation of the federation).

This twice-a-week run concluded on Tuesday, 13 January 1981.

31 episodes are billed – however, assuming this run included all serials from The Power of Kroll to The Horns of Nimon, that accounts for only 30 episodes. Presumably another episode was pre-empted during the run – possibly the final listing on 13 January 1981 was an error.

In the Bahrain paper Gulf Mirror, Doctor Who is billed for ten weeks from Tuesday, 9 November 1982 (at 6.00pm) until 11 January 1983, and then for a further eleven weeks from Sunday, 24 July 1983 until 2 October 1983 (at 6.10pm); however it's not clear what screened at this time, since the batch of new season 18 episodes didn't air until 1986. We can only conclude that these two runs were repeats – however with the second block consisting of 11 episodes it is hard to determine what episodes aired. (Did just the five colour episodes of Planet of the Daleks air? After all, Dubai did return a batch of those episodes to the BBC in 1991 – were those returned tapes the episodes that were repeated?)

There were no listings at all for Doctor Who during 1985.

It wasn't for another three years – on Tuesday, 1 April 1986 - that the series returned. (As noted elsewhere, we are not clear what the timeslot was as three different papers gave three different times: 6.40pm, 4.45pm or 5.40pm).

As far as can be determined, this run commenced with The Leisure Hive. The billings for both 20 and 27 May 1986 were for Meglos part three. (By our calculations – and assuming this season aired in production order - these dates were actually for parts one and two of that serial! Did "Part Three" actually refer to it being the third story rather than third episode?)

Based on the available listings, the series took a short break after 29 July, returning on 18 November 1986: this episode was billed as being The Keeper of Traken, as it was also for 25 November, 9, 16, 23 and 30 December! To add to the confusion, another paper had 16, 23 and 30 December billed as The Visitation!

There was no episode on 2 December 1986, as that was the Emirates' "National Day" (celebrating 14 years since the formation of the federation). At least one of the listings for The Keeper of Traken in December 1986 must have been an error (pre-empted?), otherwise there is one too many episodes for that serial.

The Tom Baker era would have ended (with Logopolis) in January 1987.

In his 1997 autobiography, Who on Earth is Tom Baker?, Baker observes that he was popular in "Abu Dhabi" (pages 195 and 257).

Fate of the Tapes

Dubai returned its tapes of Pyramids of Mars to the BBC in 1991.


Earthshock – 23 June 1987
Time-Flight – 14 July 1987
Snake Dance Part One – 28 July 1987
Arc of Infinity – 1 September 1987
The Mawdryn Undead (sic) final episode – 13 October 1987
Terminus – 20 October 1987
Enlightenment – 17 November 1987
Only one King's Demon? – 8 December 1987
Resurrection of the Daleks – 2 February 1988
The Caves of Androzani – 16 February 1988
Twin Dilemma – 22 March 1988
Vengeance of Veros (sic) – 31 May 1988
The Two Doctors Part 1 – 21 June 1988 – but probably Revelation of the Daleks
Revelation of the Daleks - 5 July 1988
Trial of the Time Lords (Part 1) (sic) – 25 October 1988
Dragon Fire (sic) – 6 September 1988
Rememberance of Dales (sic) – 22 November 1989
Greatest Show on Earth (sic) – 31 January 1990

It is not clear when exactly the Davison serials commenced their run. The first billing in Emirates News for The Visitation is on 16 December 1986, however the Gulf Mirror has the same set of episodes billed as The Keeper of Traken, which is more accurate as Tom Baker's final season was airing at that time.

Assuming the fifth Doctor's run commenced immediately after the end of Logopolis, then Castrovalva (assuming of course that the serials aired in their correct story order rather than production order) would have started on or around 27 January 1987.

Earthshock is billed as screening in June 1987. Snakedance and Arc of Infinity aired in production order.

As noted above, four stories were skipped. Resurrection of the Daleks aired as a four-parter.

Part four of The Caves of Androzani aired on 15 March 1988.


UAE viewers saw the entire sixth Doctor's era in a non-stop run between 22 March 1988 and 17 January 1989. It is not known in what order all the serials screened, but presumably they aired in production order. The extended 45 minute episodes had already been edited into half-hours by the BBC.

Emirates News lists a further three episodes for 24, 31 January and 7 February, however the following week, the listing is for Galloping Galaxies instead; we can accept that this is probably a printing error and that Doctor Who did not play on those three dates.


The seventh Doctor era commenced on 9 August 1989; the serials aired out of order, with Paradise Towers first and Time and the Rani fourth.

Season 25 screened only one year after the UK broadcasts: Part two of Remembrance of the Daleks aired on 22 November 1989, one day shy of the series' 26th anniversary.

The eighth and final serial was The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, which concluded on 14 February 1989.

There is no clear record that Doctor Who screened again. Certainly, the Gulf War (2 August 1990 to 28 February 1991) would have affected television programme acquisitions and broadcasts during and after the conflict.

In summary: Between 1975 and 14 February 1990, the UAE screened 352 first run episodes, plus (presumably) a handful of repeats.

TV listings

Airdates in United Arab Emirates

Making clear sense of the UAE airdates has been somewhat difficult, on account of there being many dates missing (our earliest date was 11 June 1977), and much conflicting information between sources. Our analysis has been based on data taken from the following newspapers:

  • Emirates News (UAE) (March 1976 to Jan 1981; April to July 1986; Nov 1986 to Feb 1989; Aug 1989 to Feb 1990)
  • Gulf Mirror (Bahrain) (Oct 1977 to Jan 1981; Nov 1982 to Oct 1983; June 1986 to June 1987)
  • Daily Gulf Times (Qatar) (March to July 1986; Jan 1987 to Feb 1990)
  • Arab Times (Kuwait) (April to Aug 1986; Nov to Dec 1986)

These papers contained not only the TV listings for the country of origin, but also for the bordering and nearby countries. But none of the papers was available as a complete set - there were often large gaps of many months or even years - and regular TV listings for neighbouring countries were often missing.

It was quite beneficial when there was an overlap of dates by more than two of the newspapers. On a few occasions three papers existed for the same date. On only two occasions in mid-1986 did all four papers overlap, however the listings presented were contradictory – for instance each of the four papers for 1 July 1986 had a different billing for Dubai's channel 33:

  • UAE paper; Dr Who, start time: 5.40pm
  • Bahrain paper; Dr Who, start time: 6.45pm
  • Kuwait paper; Dr Who, start time: 5.45pm
  • Qatar paper; Little House on the Prairie"!

On 16, 23, and 30 December 1980, two different papers identify different episodes as screening:

There is only a one-hour time difference between the UAE and the other three countries (which all lie in the same international date-line zone), so the timeslot variance between the UAE and Bahrain listing is perfectly understandable; but the listing in the Kuwait paper should also be 6.45, not 5.45. Why would the Kuwait paper list a UAE time? And as for Qatar listing a completely different show, is this simply due to a printing error?

These are extreme examples of the problems we faced. But working on the logical basis that the TV listings from the UAE's own paper would be more accurate we have pieced together a "best guess" as to what was broadcast by the UAE and when...


We have not been able to access any newspapers for 1974 and 1975, which would have had the listings for the third Doctor episodes.


The first identifiable billing for the fourth Doctor was for "Seats of Doom" (sic) on 11 June 1977.

For the 1977 to 1978 run, the Emirates News listing said "Dr Who (or) Family Affair" (the latter presumably being the long-running 1960s US comedy series Family Affair). The timeslot given was 7.05pm to 8.00pm, so presumably both series aired during that hour, and it was the screening order that was in doubt hence the use of the word "(or)".

It wasn't until May 1986 that another Tom Baker serial was identified by name – Meglos. The only other Baker serial named was The Keeper of Traken, although this was applied to seven different episodes. (Some would presumably have been Logopolis?)


Listings are given as "Doctor Who" or "Dr Who".

As noted in Transmission above, The Visitation was first billed in December 1986, but that would have to have been a miss-print since that was during Tom Baker's final run of episodes. All the stories from Earthshock through to The Caves of Androzani are billed at least once, which makes it easy to determine what screened on what dates, however it's clear that some of the listings must be wrong, with some stories being billed one week early, such as with The King's Demons, Frontios, Resurrection of the Daleks and The Caves of Androzani.

Some of the billings have miss-prints, with "THE Mawdryn Undead", a singular "The King's Demon" and one "Cave of Androzani" appearing.


Listings are given as "Doctor Who".

The Emirates News identifies six stories by title – there are no billings for Attack of the Cybermen or The Mark of the Rani. And there are five billings for Timelash! It's clear that some of the billings are incorrect, otherwise only part one of The Two Doctors and only two episodes of Revelation of the Daleks aired.

Vengeance on Varos was once billed as "Vengeance of Veros".

The Trial of a Time Lord is never billed by its correct title, with variances given such as "Trial of the Time Lord / Lords" or "Trial of Timelord / Time Lord / Lords". Both parts one and nine are correctly identified by episode number.


Listings are given as "Doctor Who".

The Emirates News has seven billings for Dragonfire, so presumably three of these were actually for Delta and the Bannermen, which has no billings of its own.

Remembrance of the Daleks is billed as "Rememberance of Dales", and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy as simply "Greatest Show" or "Greatest Show on Earth"!

United Arab Emirates in Doctor Who

  • The 2009 David Tennant story, "Planet of the Dead", was filmed in the deserts near Dubai (see our New Series page).