Recently, there has been increasing talk about Dubai. Its name frequently gets mentioned in the media, and it has started to get more and more recognition as a hot travel destination. Maybe you’ve even seen images of Dubai’s stunning beauty in the news or online? Dubai has no doubt emerged as a global city and business hub of the Middle East, but there still remains some confusion about it. Where is Dubai, and why has it attracted so much attention in recent years?
Where is Dubai?
Dubai is a city located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf. It is the largest and most populous city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country on the Arabian Peninsula that is comprised of a federation of seven emirates.
An emirate is a political territory that is ruled by a dynastic Islamic monarch, and the city of Dubai is located within the Emirate of Dubai. The other emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Al Quwain. Each of these individual emirates are ruled by a hereditary emir, while a federation President oversees the entire group of emirates.
The emirate of Dubai shares borders with the emirate of Abu Dhabi in the south, the emirate of Sharjah in the northeast, and the country of Oman in the southeast. Dubai lies directly within the Arabian Desert, though the city of Dubai is located on the Persian Gulf coast.
History of Dubai
Stone tools have been found at various archaeological sites across the UAE, but little is known about the region’s earliest inhabitants. The first recorded mention of Dubai dates back to 1095 AD, in a geography book by the Andalusian-Arab geographer, Abu Abdullah al-Bakri. Dubai was home to a small population of regional tribes for most of its history, though it gained prominence during the Middle Ages as a center of trade and pearling, largely due to its location on the Persian Gulf.
Dubai’s location as an important trade hub would help foster its growth throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1930s, however, sparked by the Great Depression and the innovation of cultured pearls, the pearl industry collapsed. This led to a period of economic decline for the city of Dubai, which lasted until the discovery of oil in territorial waters off Dubai in 1966.
Oil would revolutionize the entire region. In 1971, Dubai became part of the United Arab Emirates, and by 1975, was prospering from an influx of foreign workers, who were drawn to the region to work in the oil industry.
The Gulf War in 1990 would have a negative effect on Dubai’s economy, as uncertainty over the future of the region caused foreign investors to leave. This economic downturn didn’t last long, however. With unrest elsewhere in the Middle East, many foreign companies in the Arab world began to move their businesses to the more stable Dubai. In 2003, Dubai served as a refueling station for the US-led invasion of Iraq, cushioning the economy for the next several years.
Dubai’s economic success has carried into current times. Today, Dubai has diversified its economy, maintaining its stake in the oil industry, but also moving into real estate, construction, transit exports, and financial services.
It has also secured itself as a tourism hub. People from all over the world flock to Dubai, which has gained fame as a mecca for shopping. It boasts over 70 luxury shopping centers in the city. The Dubai Mall is the largest in the world by area, and the Mall of Emirates has become famous for its indoor ski hill.
Despite being dubbed the “shopping capital of the Middle East,” Dubai is much more than that. With many ancient and modern attractions, leaders in the UAE hope to make Dubai the top tourist destination in the world.
Dubai clearly has a lot going for it. And now the next time you hear people talking about, you’ll known what all the hype is about.
Mark Heald is an Associate Product Manager and Sporcle Admin. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and bemoaning the fact the Sonics left Seattle.