When you look around Dubai today, it is hard to believe that not long ago this buzzing city was just a small fishing village. Now a city of superlatives, the emirate has undergone rapid transformation in recent decades and has risen to become a global leader in tourism and commerce. So, what was the catalyst for change? What propelled it forward? And, most interestingly, what does the future hold?
The 1800s saw the beginning of Dubai's fishing, pearling and sea trade - a trade that turned it into a successful port by the arrival of the 20th century. The Deira souk grew into the largest on the coast, attracting businessmen and visitors from around the world, creating a sizeable expatriate population, and in that respect, mirroring the Dubai we know today.
Striking oil in 1966, Dubai was transformed forever. Oil revenues were used to jettison infrastructure development like never before; leading to a new port, a new terminal building at Dubai International Airport, schools, hospitals, new roads, and the development of the world's largest man-made harbour, Jebel Ali.
The discovery of oil provided a catalyst for Dubai's rapid development, which saw it transformed from fishing village to international hub in a matter of decades. It wasn't until the 1980s, however, that the emirate set its sights on becoming a world-class tourism destination. Nothing short of remarkable, its growth has been rapid and continues to be so.
How Dubai supported investment to create growth
The secrets to Dubai's success as it transitioned in the wake of the oil discovery spanned more than just investment alone. The emirate's leaders forged an environment conducive to growth by welcoming expatriates, keeping import duties low and minimising tax on personal and corporate income.
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