Dubai World

The History of Dubai: Journeying from a Port to Smart City

Skyline of Dubai

The smart and elegant city of Dubai was once a lonely fishing harbor that was largely dependent on oil, pearl diving, and trade. Today, the city is one of the world’s fastest-growing metropolitan area and the most populous state in the UAE. Let’s journey down memory lane, discover how it all started and the steps taken to transition into a luxurious city that is built around trade, tourism, and finance.

Dubai 1990
Dubai 1990

According to archaeological evidence, Dubai started as far back as the Bronze Age (3000 BC). It gradually became a creek settlement that was led by the Maktoum family by 1833. The deserted creek soon became a successful trade port by the turn of the 20th century and a business focal point from traders from North African, Asian and European countries. Merchants from neighboring countries flocked in to trade fish, pearl, gold, spices, and textiles. This positioned Dubai as a major trading hub.

Oil was discovered in Dubai in 1966. The ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum decided that the revenue from the discovered oil should be used to develop the city. The Sheikh also took out loans from Britain to fund the construction of private companies that built electricity lines, telephone services, the first airport, and seaports.

Dubai oil discovery
Oil discovery in Dubai

The year 1971 heralded the federation of the United Arab Emirates under the leadership of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The nation comprised of Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah, with Abu Dhabi as capital. Under the visionary leadership of the Sheikh, the UAE embarked on ambitious social projects.

In 1995, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum became the Crown Prince of Dubai. He supervised the execution of projects such as the opening of Jebel Ali port in 1979, the inauguration of Jebel Ali Free Zone in 1985, the launch of the Burj Al Arab in 1999, etc. By 2006, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum became the Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE. Dubai Metro was launched to accommodate the increasing traffic in 2009, and 2010 witnessed the construction of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

Nights in Dubai
Nights in Dubai

Now, what started as a port is gradually becoming the world’s smartest city. Dubai has more than 20 industrial free zones that offer 100% ownership to business owners without demanding tax duties. It is one of the world’s fastest-growing municipals with foreigners constituting more than 80% of its total population. Dubai is now the headquarters of top world-class companies and is gradually developing into a smart city by implementing technology-enabled projects.

The success of Dubai can be said to be fast-tracked by good leadership, proper planning, and foreign direct investments. The once arid land is now fondly referred to as the tourist delight, a luxurious city, the hearth of skyscrapers and financial hub of the Middle East.

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Written by Joy Uche



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