It boasts of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, man-made islands, cosmopolitan cuisine, world’s tallest skyscrapers, most expensive hotels, largest shopping malls, and the spirit of a new modern life, blowing in the wind here. Its amazing reality attracts people from the darkest corners of the world, hoping for a real chance to knock on heaven’s door. Meanwhile, its history is just a dream come true.

The Early Minoan Period

(3,000 BC – Vth century AD)

Dubai’s roots reach back all the way to the early Minoan period. The site where Dubai now lies used to be a vast mangrove swamp. By 3,000 BC it had dried up and the area became inhabitable. Bronze Age nomadic cattle herders are believed to have been the first to settle down here.
Around 2,500 BC, they established a thriving date palm plantation, and for the next couple of millennia, the area was successfully used for agriculture. In the Vth century AD, the site now known as Jumeirah – home to beautiful beachside restaurants – was a caravan station on a trade route, linking Oman to what is now Iraq.

The Walled City Period


Records show that in the early 1800s, Dubai was a walled city. Al Fahidi Fort was built around the time Dubai became a dependency. The city wall on the Bur Dubai side extended from Al Fahad Historical Neighbourhood all the way to Al Fahidi Fort, ending at the Old Souk. On the Deira side, the Al Ras area was walled as well. In 1820, a maritime truce with Great Britain was signed to make the local trade routes open.

The Bani Yas Tribe Period


The earliest mention of Dubai, dating back to 1095, is found in the ‘Book of Geography’ by Andalusian Arab Abu Abdullah Al Bakri. Another record was made in 1590 by Venetian pearl merchant Gaspero Balbi when he visited the area for pearl trade purposes. At the time, the local livelihood relied heavily on fishing, pearl-diving, and boat building as well as accommodating and sustaining foreign merchants, selling gold, spices, and textiles. Today, these goods are still available in the local souks – excellent souvenirs for tourists to take home. The next historic milestone is 1793 when the local Bani Yas tribe settled with the rulers of Abu Dhabi, Dubai becoming its dependent.

The Al Maktoum Dynasty

(1833 to date)

1833 is another milestone in Dubai’s history. That year, Maktoum bin Butti of the Bani Yas tribe led his people to the Shindagha Peninsula to settle down at the mouth of the Dubai Creek and declared independence from Abu Dhabi.
From that time, when Dubai was a small fishing village, to the present day with all its massive changes, the Al Maktoum Dynasty has been ruling the emirate of Dubai. Visitors can explore the city’s yesteryears while walking along the banks of the Dubai Creek. An anchor to the emirate’s heritage, the site is also a hub of bustling activity, all kinds of boats gliding along the historic waterway.

Welcoming Expatriates


Under Al Maktoum’s leadership, Dubai began to thrive. In 1894, expatriates were granted exemption from taxes, which led to a huge influx of foreign workers, giving the local economy yet another boost. Many Indian and Pakistani traders also came to Dubai. It was a rather successful period in Dubai’s history, but the local economy was still wholly reliant on fishing, pearl diving, and trading.

The Present-Day Boom

(1966 to date)

After the discovery of oil deposits in the emirate, late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum launched a full-scale development of Dubai to eventually transform a cluster of small settlements on the Dubai Creek into a modern port, metropolis, and major commercial hub. Thanks to the leadership’s vision, the UAE pushed ahead with very ambitious construction

and social projects: Port Rashid, Jebel Ali Port, Dubai Drydocks, The Dubai World Trade Centre, and the widening of the Dubai Creek, to name just a few. Within only half a century, Dubai exploded in growth, creating such modern wonders as the Burj Al Arab, the city’s most iconic hotel, and the Burj Khalifa skyscraper.