Dubai is one of the fastest growing cities in the history of the world. Located in the desert of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where temperatures can reach 50? Dubai is one of the most humid locations on the planet. Yet, this small state on the Persian Gulf has undergone impressive modernisation and has developed into one of the most advanced cities in the world.
Only 50 years ago Dubai was a quiet trading and pearl diving village but has since emerged as a central hub for trade, business, luxury tourism, multi-billion dollar real estate venues and air travel. So, how was Dubai able to emerge into the global city it now is??
History of Dubai and surrounding Emirates
Dubai’s history has been shaped by its unique location at the Southern end of the Arabian Gulf, tucked in between sea and sand. The History of the Dubai before the colonial era still remains extremely vague due to the lack of written records until the arrival of the British in the eighteenth century. But historians are certain that there was a lack of development and low population levels. The harsh desert environment prevented sustained settling and not until the advent of oil and air conditioning in the 1960’s did the cities population rise above 100,000.
The first permeant settlement around the Dubai Creek appears to have been established sometime during the eighteenth century by the Al Bu Flash branch of the Bani Yas which was then controlled by the Qawasim. Around the same time, the Gulf began to enter the mainstream of colonial politics thanks to its strategically convenient location on the sea route between Britain and India.
The British then started to make up tales of “Qawasim piracy” against British and Indian shipping. Which led to the Royal Navy’s punitive attack against the Qawasim in 1820 leading to the death of over 7,000 troops forcing the Qawasim to surrender. The Qawasim never entirely recovered the power they once used to have.
The British were warmly welcomed by the Dubai emirate leaders (the Maktoums) as a result of a significant reduction of Qawasim attacks and threats. The British then signed a series of “anti-piracy” treaties with the rulers of the varying Gulf emirates which now make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Maktoums quickly began to establish Dubai as a political and economic force in the Gulf with the Granting of the British and their protection.
The pearl diving industry
The Maktoums successfully managed to make Dubai a profitable state thanks to its largely flourishing pearl industry, which made some of the world’s finest pearls, exported to London and the rest of the world. Seeing a major chance in this Sheikh Maktoum took drastic measures, abolishing customs duty and licences for vessels in Dubai turning the entire city into a free port. Which led to the arrival of the Iranians who estate shed Dubai as their hub for Iranian trade, channelling massive amounts of money and merchandise through the city.
However the new prosperity was not to last, and the cities continued reliance on the pear diving industry proved fatal. The Great Depression in 1929 signalled the beginning of the end. Overseas interest on Dubai’s pearls dried up overnight. Japanese scientists discovered a reliable method for creating pearls, instantly wiping out pearl diving in Dubai and elsewhere. The effect this had on Dubai’s economy was catastrophic. Many of the cities businesses went bankrupt, the educational system collapsed and then came the food shortages.
Dubai citizens were furious and blamed their leader Sheikh Saeed. Citizens demanded that Sheikh Saeed handed over 85% of his income for public use.
The rise of Dubai
The transformation into modern Dubai began with the dredging of the creek and the establishment of The Jebel Ali Port both led by Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum. Sheikh Maktoum understood that compared to its neighbours (Abu Dhabi) Dubai had a limited amount of oil reserves( 1/20th compared to its neighbour Abu Dhabi) but was determined to build Dubai’s economy up before the oil ran out.
The Persian Gulf is located in the perfect location for trade connecting Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. By establishing itself as a central hub of trade with the Jebel Ali Port in 1979, which became the largest man-made harbours and the largest in the Middle East. The Jebel Ali Free Zone quickly followed in 1985 with an airport currently under construction (Al Maktoum International Airport).
Another way Dubai grew is by establishing its own massively successful airline “Emirates”. Emirates airlines were established in 1985 by the Dubai government starting out with only two aircrafts. Emirates airlines have now expanded into a hugely successful airline with over 150 destinations around the globe and an extensive fleet of over 100 Airbus A380 aircrafts and Boeing 777 aircrafts equipped with lavish first class suites. With over 200 aircraft orders to come, Emirates will continue to grow.