United Arab Emirates
The History of Dubai, UAE
Although there is evidence that the region of Dubai has been traveled and settled for many centuries, the city of Dubai did not exist on paper until after 1799. Around that time, the Al Abu Falasa clan of the Bani Yas tribe officially established and controlled the city, but in 1833, the Al Maktoum Falasa clan of the same tribe took it over without resistance. In 1829, Dubai signed a maritime peace treaty with the United Kingdom, and then an agreement 60 years later in which the United Kingdom agreed to protect Dubai from any threats made by the Ottoman Empire. From the start, Dubai was an important trading center due to its location on the Persian Gulf and its close proximity to India, from where many foreign tradesmen and investors traveled to do business, and then eventually to settle in Dubai. For many years, Dubai was primarily renowned for its pearls, but due to the effects of WWI and the Great Depression, the industry waned and resulted in many workers leaving the area for other parts of the Persian Gulf. However, in the 1950s, Dubai’s industry based broadened as the British transferred their local administrative offices to the city and electricity, telephone services, and an airport were established. Oil was then discovered in Dubai in 1966, which brought economic prosperity to the city and a burgeoning population that grew over 300% between 1968 and 1975.
When the United Kingdom withdrew from the Persian Gulf in 1971, Dubai and the six other emirates—Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain—combined to form the country United Arab Emirates, and adopted a uniform currency, the UAE dirham. Dubai continued to be a thriving center for trade, even more so after the establishment of the Jebel Ali Free Zone and port in 1979, which allowed foreign companies unrestricted import of labor and export capital. The success of the free zone led Dubai to create others, including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai Maritime City. After the culmination of the Persian Gulf War, Dubai began to focus on its tourism industry, adding modern urban construction to its skyline and new residential developments that would appeal to international visitors and investors. One of Dubai’s major projects in the 90s was the addition of the Burj Al Arab, the world’s tallest freestanding hotel that is located on an artificial island overlooking the city. Currently, Dubai is undergoing another huge endeavor—Dubailand—a giant theme park that when completed, will be twice the size of Walt Disney World. Due to its brand new façade, sparkling skyscrapers, and record-breaking architectural achievements, Dubai is synonymous with wealth and luxury and is considered to be one of the world’s premier tourist and residential destinations.