Planning a vacation? If you like cities, you might pick New York. If beaches are your thing, perhaps the Caribbean is where you’ll get your tan. If you want to experience the great outdoors, you may choose the deserts of the Middle East or the wildlife of Africa. Or if it’s culture you’re after, Europe is the scene of your adventure. However, if you want a little of all of the above, Dubai is the place.
The most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, the city of Dubai is one of the seven emirates which make up the Persian Gulf nation. It is a Middle Eastern business hub and a truly global city. Once a city dependent on oil reserves, today less than 5% of its revenue comes from oil, with tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services now key components of the city’s economy.
The World Was Not Their Oyster
Before the discovery of oil, Dubai was an important port of call for trading, particularly from Iran. Until the 1930s, Dubai was known for its pearl exports. However, when the pearl trade was damaged by the Great Depression in the 1930s, as well as the invention of cultured pearls (through oyster farming), Dubai fell into a state of depression with many residents moving elsewhere.
For the next three decades, Dubai survived thanks to the patronage of its ruler Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. When oil was discovered in 1966, the city’s fortunes were set to change for the better, and Dubai would never be the same again.
A Sea Of Oil
With the discovery of oil came a sea of immigration as the city’s population grew by over 300% between 1968 and 1975. The first oil field named, “Fateh” meaning “good fortune” was a good omen for what was to come. Infrastructure development plans resulted in a construction boom like few others in history.
With the British withdrawing completely in 1968, Dubai along with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain and Fujairah in the Act of Union to form the United Arab Emirates. The seventh emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, would join later in 1972. The city continued to grow from revenues generated from oil and trade in the following decades to what it has become today.