Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The history of Dubai is somewhat mysterious. Before Islam became the religion of the region, when the Byzantine and Sassanian empires ruled, the people of Dubai worshipped a god called Bajir. Dubai shows up briefly in western history books around 1580, when Gaspero Balbi, a renowned pearl merchant, mentioned Dubai for its wealth of pearls.
Dubai came into existence in records as a town around 1799. It was originally a fishing settlement. Inhabitants lived by fishing, pearling, herding sheep and goats, but by the turn of the century, Dubai was an important trading port. Trade expanded even as the city was under the British protectorate, which was established in 1892, and Dubai began to grow in merchant appeal. Since Dubai is so close to India, it became a pivotal hub for trade, with many choosing to relocate there.
By the early 1900s, almost a quarter of the population was foreign. The population in the 1930s was 20,000, with 2000 Persians, 1000 Baluchis, many Indians and substantial communities from Bahrain, Kuwait and the Hasa province in eastern Saudi Arabia. In 1954, Great British established a political agency there as well.
Dubai's rich pearl industry was significantly damaged by World War I and the economic turmoil caused by the Great Depression. As a result, many chose to migrate to other parts of the Arab world. The discovery of oil, however, pulled thousands of newcomers into the city.
Oil was discovered in 1966 and by 1969 Dubai exported its first shipment of oil. In 1971, the British withdrew and Dubai joined with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Aiman, Umm Al Quwain, Fajairah and later Ras Al Khaimah to create the federation of the United Arab Emirates. The success of the oil venture fueled the rapid development of the area, and through the insight of the late ruler, provided for the general welfare of the inhabitants. The price of oil skyrocketed after the Persian Gulf War, making Dubai's government rich from the profits. Dubai worked to build up its infrastructure of transportation facilities, schools, hospitals, tourist services and other amenities of an advanced society. Dubai continues to expand and develop today.