Barriers to foreign trading removed
New Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum declares his vision to create a free port and attract foreign traders to the region. A number of barriers are removed such as customs fees and licenses for vessels, a five per cent tax on trade is scrapped, and over 200 Dubai-registered boats and 3,000 merchants are exempted from further tariffs. Merchants, craftsman and pearlers flock to the emirate; in 1902, India shifts its trade to Dubai when Teheran introduces taxes on its merchants. A new souk, the Bastakiya – named after the Iranian town of Bastak – is predominantly filled with traders from Iran.
A rapidly growing population demands expansion
In the 1950s, Dubai’s rapidly growing population demanded significant expansion of the city’s infrastructure and services, in addition to accommodating the immediate requirements, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum had his eyes on the future. In 1959, Sheikh Rashid orders the dredging of the Dubai creek after recognising that the rapid silting of the waterway has limited the number of seagoing vessels that can enter it. The excavated rock and soil is deposited on low-lying land along its shores and this reclaimed land is sold to pay for the project. By 1961, the creek project is complete and shipping lines begin using Dubai as their main port in the Gulf.
The UAE is born
The British government ends its treaty relationship with the Trucial States of the Gulf Coast on 1 December 1971. The next day, six of the newly independent states come together and a new nation – the United Arab Emirates – is born. Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain are the founder members of the federation. A seventh emirate, Ras al-Khaimah, joins in February 1972. Later that year, the UAE joins UNESCO the United Nations, and the Arab League.
Work begins on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway
Work begins on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway. With three different names, depending on where you stand – including Sheikh Zayed road in Dubai – this road (also known as the E11) will stretch all the way from Al Silah in Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah, at the Oman border. When construction finishes in 1980, it will be the longest road in the UAE.
The World Trade Centre opens
From a stopping point on Silk Road to the pearl fishery and trading station of the 19th century, Dubai has long been dedicated to trade. In 1978, the World Trade Centre, Dubai’s first skyscraper opens. It is soon adorning not just the Dubai skyline but also the UAE’s 100 Dirham banknote. Many taller buildings have followed (culminating in the Burj Khalifa) but the World Trade Centre is still a feature of the Dubai skyline and a constant reminder that trade is the engine of the economy here.
Deepwater port, Jebel Ali, opens
Deepwater port, Jebel Ali, opens, taking Dubai’s connectivity to a new level. The world’s largest man-made harbour, Jebel Ali covers three and a half million square metres, has 67 berths and accommodates 15,000 vessels a year. More than 1,300 containers pass through Jebel Ali every day: it is named ‘Best Seaport in the Middle East’ for 17 years running. Jebel Ali is also the first Free Zone in Dubai, proving a concept that will later spread across the emirate.
The first Emirates flight takes off from Dubai
In 1985, the first Emirates flight takes off from Dubai. The airline begins with two leased planes and $10 million in start-up capital: small beginnings in the competitive world of aviation. Twenty-five years later, Emirates has 162 wide-bodied planes and 243 more on order. Given a fair wind by enlightened aviation policies, the once-fledgling airline now serves 116 destinations in 67 countries.
- 1989: Teeing off
The world’s best golfers tee off in the Dubai Desert Classic
The world’s best golfers tee off in the Dubai Desert Classic, the first European Tour event to be staged in the Middle East. Over more than 20 years winners include such greats as Ernie Els, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Four years later in 1993 the Dubai Tennis Championships takes its place on the sporting calendar. Roger Federer and Justine Henin dominate, winning the title five times each.
- 1985: Emirates takes off
Construction of the Burj Al Arab begins
Construction of the Burj Al Arab begins in 1994, led by British architect Tom Wright, and managed by Canadian engineer Rick Gregory. It is designed to resemble the sail of a Dhow, and described by its architect as a ‘building that would become synonymous with the name of the country.’ The Burj Al Arab opens in December 1999, putting Dubai on the map for millions more people and playing a part in the worldwide success of the Jumeirah hotel group. Jumeirah now has resorts in London, New York and Shanghai.
Dubai becomes a key global meeting point
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed announces his ‘Destination Dubai’ tourism project to transform Dubai into a global tourism hub. The Dubai Shopping Festival, an annual festival aimed to unite and promote all aspects of the emirate’s economy, also launches this year. Many other events and conferences follow, as Dubai becomes a key global meeting point for business travellers and tourists alike.
The inaugural Dubai World Cup
Eleven of the world’s leading thoroughbreds compete for the inaugural Dubai World Cup: the prize is the richest purse in racing. American wonderhorse Cigar wins a classic encounter, setting the standard for what will become a pinnacle of the racing year. In 2010 the Dubai World Cup moves to the new Meydan track and in 2011 Japanese contender Victoire Pisa takes the prize.
Emaar Properties is established
Emaar Properties, the Gulf region’s largest land and property developer, is established. The company experiences rapid growth launching Emirates Hills in 1999, followed by ground-breaking developments such as Dubai Marina (2000), and the Burj Khalifa (2010). In 2004, Emaar International is launched in a strategic move to diversify the company’s markets and sustain future growth. It successfully forges a presence in major international locations spanning the Middle East, North Africa, Pan-Asia, Europe and North America.
A new archipelago, the Palm Jumeirah, is created
While resort and business hotel capacity continues to grow in the emirate, a more ambitious plan takes shape offshore. A new archipelago, the Palm Jumeirah, is created with innovative land reclamation techniques. 94,000,000 cubic metres of sand is used to create the Palm, which also includes a curved breakwater, to encourage the growth of a natural reef. On completion, Palm Jumeirah is the world’s largest artificial island.
Development of the ‘Free Zone’ concept
Following the success of Jebel Ali Free Zone, which now hosts more than 6,400 companies, 2002 sees a broadening of this concept throughout Dubai. New Free Zones include Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubai Silicon Oasis and Entrepreneur Business Village. The Free Zones, with their 100 per cent tax breaks and their one-stop shop of offices, warehousing, visa services, amenities and accommodation, attract a wave of ambitious entrepreneurs.
The Dubai International Financial Centre launches
Dubai’s position between the developed and emerging world creates natural strategic advantage. In 2004 The Dubai International Financial Centre launches as a Free Zone, quickly attracting major global players. By 2011 the DIFC is home to 800 active registered firms, including 18 of the top 25 global banks, asset managers, insurers and law firms.
Art Dubai opens, a showcase for Middle Eastern artists
In 2007, Art Dubai opens, a showcase for Middle Eastern artists that now attracts serious international interest, including more than 60 museum groups in 2011. The Dubai International Film Festival, which first begins screening in 2004, is an influential platform for Arab filmmakers and in 2010, welcomes 2,000 delegates from more than 50 countries.
The Burj Khalifa opens on 4 January 2010
The Burj Khalifa opens on 4 January 2010, part of a new flagship development, Downtown Dubai. At 829m high, it is the world’s tallest building and features the world’s fastest elevators, the world’s highest restaurant and is crowned with the world’s highest mosque. Immediately iconic, the Burj is climbed on 28 March 2011, by French climber Alain Robert. Hollywood movie Mission Impossible 4 films here in the summer of 2011.
- 2011: Even more connections
50 million passengers land in Dubai International
Two thirds of the world’s population now live within an eight-hour flight of Dubai. In 2010, some 50 million passengers land in Dubai International Airport. By 2015, the airport will be the world’s largest passenger hub – yet a new airport is already receiving cargo flights. When completed, Al Maktoum will accommodate 120 million passengers a year and 12 million tonnes of cargo, and will be the fulcrum of Dubai World Central, the world’s largest integrated logistics hub.
- 2010: Reaching for the skies
Celebrating 40 years of the UAE
Dubai celebrates the 40th anniversary of the
United Arab Emirates
2nd December 2011 is the 40th anniversary of the UAE. In the life of an individual, 40 years is a long time and a key milestone. Yet 40 years makes this one of the youngest countries on the planet. The rapid development of the UAE means that this is a place relentlessly looking to the future.
Birthdays, however, are a time for reflection. As former UAE President, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan once said: “He who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present and future”. Here we look back over the first 40 years of the UAE, through the milestones of one of its emirates, Dubai.
Throughout its history, Dubai has welcomed residents from all corners of the planet. Vision.ae speaks to a selection for their take on the emirate which has shaped them and whose destiny, in turn, they have helped shape
A unique symbiosis exists between Dubai and its expat population. Representing over 80 per cent of the emirate’s inhabitants, this melting pot of individuals, who hail from Europe, the Americas, China, the Indian Subcontinent – and everywhere else in between – have, with their Emirati counterparts, had their own significant part to play in Dubai’s rapid development.
Speak to the city’s international gallery curators, its taxi drivers, restaurateurs, architects, cleaning contractors and media executives, and a common refrain repeats time and time again – the sense that they have a genuine stake in this emirate that they now call home.
As Dubai celebrates the UAE’s 40th anniversary, we caught up with a handful to find out about ‘their’ Dubai…
Says: ‘Here, everyone is equal, no matter what their background’
One of Dubai’s brightest young architects, Nabil Sherif has an Egyptian father and a mother from Madeira.
Raised a Muslim with what he calls a “mixed culture”, it was the way of life that attracted him to Dubai – “a place in between Europe and Egypt, which offered opportunity aplenty in a Middle Eastern cultural setting.
“I wanted to set up on my own and Dubai seemed ideal. No other country in the Middle East caters for the way of life I had become used to, but still allows newcomers an opportunity. Here, everyone is equal no matter what their background, and you don’t have to be part of the local culture to succeed.”
Today, Sherif’s NGS Architects is growing fast from its base at the Jumeirah Lakes Towers freezone.
Image: Abe Peñamante
Says: ‘Here we have room to breathe’
After three years in the emirate, Sarah Kassem and her husband left Dubai in 2010 to return to the UK following the birth of their child. “We felt too far from home,” she says.
But they missed Dubai, so when Jumeirah headhunted her to become the new Executive Housekeeper at the luxury hotel group’s new Zabeel Saray resort on The Palm Jumeirah, they rushed back.
“I missed our friends here in Dubai,” she says. “And together with the space, weather, and quality of life, it is a great place for a small child. Here, we know our neighbours, the safety is key for me, it’s an outdoor life and we have room to breathe… Dubai really grows on you.”
And she loves her new job. “I was so proud of my team recently,” she says, highlighting one day where the hotel counted out 300 departures, and counted in another 300 arrivals. “Every room was done by 6pm. It’s the best aspect of my role, when everything gets done, and everyone is happy. A happy team is the key to doing a great job.”
Cleaning and painting services company owner
Says: ‘It’s safe and secure here all of the time’
Thirty-four-year-old Umair Ahmed moved to Dubai from Kashmir, Pakistan, four years ago. He runs a cleaning and painting services company, Emirates Star.
“It’s safe and secure here all of the time, there are plenty of opportunities for business, and I like the multi-cultural society. You meet people from all over the world.
“It’s also important for me that Dubai is centrally located, as I have relatives and friends from as far away as South Asia and Europe. It’s really good that they can travel here easily, and without any visa issues.”
From: New Zealand
Says: ‘Time here seems to go faster’
442m up in the sky, on the 122nd floor of Burj Khalifa, the Executive Chef of the tower’s signature restaurant, At.mosphere, can watch the sun rise in the morning from one side of his kitchen, and set on the other. “It’s an incredible view,” says Kiwi Dwayne Cheer.
Cheer has lived in Dubai for five years, working first for One & Only at The Royal Mirage, before moving on to The Address, first at the Downtown hotel, and then at The Address Dubai Mall. He moved to At.mosphere for the restaurant’s opening.
“I have a brand new kitchen, and free range with the menu. I can buy wild sea bass from France, or the best foie gras. For a chef, being allowed to buy the best means there is no better playground!”
Dubai is now very much home to Dwayne, his wife, and their six-month-old daughter who was born here. “I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. The Dubai vibe is unique. Time here seems to go faster.”
Business consultancy CEO
Says: ‘Our consumption is low but our contribution is limitless’
Ali Borhani arrived in Dubai five years ago. This year he’s 40, a birthday he celebrates with the UAE.
Born in Iran, but a long-time resident of Canada, a year ago he made the break to open his own consultancy in Dubai, Incubeemea, which helps international companies negotiate the Middle East marketplace.
Dubai is all about “POTENTIAL” he says: “Playful, Optimistic, Thriving, ENTerprising, Internationalised, Accepting, and with a fabulous Location.”
Administration and HR manager
Says: ‘Dubai has made my children well-rounded, confident youngsters’
Renu Ahuja arrived in Dubai from Mumbai in 1988. “I set out with mixed feelings: excitement at my first journey outside India, and fear of the unknown. What would life in the Middle East be like for a young woman?
“Looking back, the move was one of the best decisions of my life – an opportunity to better the lives of me and my family.”
Renu works as Administration and HR Manager of Victory Team Establishment, which runs Dubai’s Class One Powerboating team, and World Champions, Victory Team, as well as other world-beaters in Jetski, Xcat and Rallying.
“I started work with government and today, 24 years later, I still work for a government body. Emiratis are some of the best bosses.
“Dubai has become home. I have delivered two children here, under the care of really good doctors, and raised them in this wonderful city, which is such a melting pot of nationalities and cultures. It has gone a long way towards making them well-rounded, confident youngsters, ready to face the challenges of a competitive world.”