Dubai’s origins go back into the distant past. A rich collection of objects have been found in graves from the first millennium BC at nearby Al-Qusais, while a caravan station from the sixth century AD was excavated in expat suburb, Jumairah.

In 1833, lead by the Al Maktoum family, 800 members of a branch of the Bani Yas tribe from the Liwa oasis, settled in a small fishing settlement on the banks of Dubai Creek, at the foot of the arid Hajar Mountains. The Maktoum family still rule the emirate. In the 1800s herding sheep and goats, cultivating dates, fishing and pearling were the main concerns for early Dubai residents.

The Maktoum’s liberal attitudes attracted Indian and Persian traders and Dubai became a bustling port, the busiest in the region. The 350-shop/stall strong souk market on the Deira side of the creek was said to be the largest on the coast. Trade got an additional boost when Lingah, on the Persian coast, introduced high customs dues in 1902.

Dubai’s liberal, cosmopolitan reputation attracted other foreigners too and by the 1930s, nearly a quarter of the 20,000 population was foreign. The British made Dubai their center on the coast, establishing a political agency in 1954.

The independent emirate joined Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah in 1971 to form the UAE - the United Arab Emirates. The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah joined in 1972.

Until the 1960s Bedouin nomads roamed the dunes of the surrounding desert with their flocks and herds. In 1966 this lifestyle began to come to an end.

1966’s discovery of oil entirely transformed Dubai. The late HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum and his successor, HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ensured oil revenues were used to develop economic and social infrastructure which laid the foundations for today's modern society.

Since 1966 Dubai has been the site of intense development.


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