Some 800 members of the Bani Yas tribe, led by the Maktoum Family, settled at the mouth of the creek in 1833. The creek was a natural harbour and Dubai soon-became a centre for fishing, pearl diving, and sea trade.
By the turn of the 20th century, Dubai evolved into a successful port. The souk (Arabic for market) on the Deira side of the creek was the largest on the coast with 350 shops and a steady throng of visitors and businessmen. By the 1930s Dubai’s population was nearly 20,000, a quarter of whom were expatriates.
In the 1950s the creek began to silt, perhaps as a result of the increasing number of ships that used it. The late Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, decided to have the waterway dredged. It was an ambitious, costly and visionary project. The move resulted in increased volumes of cargo handling in Dubai.
Ultimately, it strengthened Dubai’s position as a major trading and re-export hub.
Dubai was a humble pearl fishing village until the discovery of oil in 1966, which triggered a massive influx of foreign workers – and the formation of the United Arab Emirates in the 1970’s – leading the city to undertake major initiatives to drive growth beyond recognition. An accelerated focus on the development of infrastructure like roads, airports, telecommunications networks, schools, hospitals, and housing coupled with visionary leadership, an expatriate-friendly environment, zero tax on personal and corporate income, and low import duties helped shape Dubai to be ‘Fit for Growth’ and to challenge the global destinations attracting wealth and human talent.
Ideally positioned mid-point between Europe and Asia, Dubai has captured the imagination of the global citizen in building one of the world’s most diverse and competitive economies.
As one of the world’s exemplar cities, Dubai’s growth momentum has been maintained through a structured approach to economic diversification which began more than 40 years ago, which focused on reducing the reliance on oil and gas revenues. Dubai has concentrated on a decade-by-decade evolving strategy, which initially prioritized the growth of regional and international trade, whilst developing the new high value-adding sectors across logistics & aviation, tourism, real estate & construction, financial services, mining, and knowledge-based industries.
Dubai’s economy grew by 3.0% per annum from 2010 to 2017, with predictions of continued growth by an average of 3.5% per annum until 2020, as the city prepares to host Expo 2020. Added to the successful Expo 2020 win, Dubai’s recent MSCI upgrade from ‘Frontier’ to ‘Emerging Market’ status has secured the Emirate as a leading global investment destination, thereby continuing to attract wealth and talent from all around the world.
With its robust foundations built on a dynamically open environment, richly diversified economy and multinational population, Dubai is entering an even more exciting period of growth, expansion and prosperity.
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