Dubai changed its resource-based economic model to revenues from tourism, real estate, and financial services. A mixture of homely comforts, extravagant living and exotic experiences, Dubai has become a popular and safe Middle East destination for travellers.


  • The major turning point in the history and fortunes of Dubai was the discovery of oil in Dubai’s Fateh oil field in 1966. This secured the future of Dubai as an autonomous state and cemented its ability to dictate policy in later years to the United Arab Emirates.
  • The year 1971 was of great significance when the British withdrew and Dubai joined the Federation of the United Emirates.
  • Realizing that oil revenues would significantly decline and could not provide a solid base for economic growth in the mid-1980s, Dubai’s rulers strategically shifted to foreign trade as the main source of income. The Burj Al project (1994) gave hope to the economy, as a long term strategy, an ambition to become the world’s top tourist destination.
  • Dubai’s oil reserves are expected to last approximatley for the next 40 years. Dubai extracts 350,000 Barrels a day.


  • ‘Don’t rely on oil, invest’, a quote from Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed al-Maktoum.
  • Become a more dynamic and diversified economy in order to survive the decay of fossil fuels.
  • Develop a new economy based on tourism, real estate, telecommunications, infrastructure, financial services and trade.
  • Renovate and improve new and old infrastructure including and a new harbour and airport.


  • The city of Dubai had a free trade policy in gold.
  • Exceptional strategic location in the trade network connecting Asia with the Mediterranean and North Africa.
  • Strong history in trade, rich partners and relatively stable politics in an unstable area contributed to its success.


  • The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) was established in March 2000 as a secondary market for trading securities and bonds, both local and foreign.
  • The al-Maktoum tradition was one of the first to encourage companies to invest in and operate from Dubai, by offering incentives and establishing free trade zones. Dubai was then made one of the world’s premier tourist destinations.
  • Dubai advanced as a global hub for service industries such as IT and finance.
  • The government set up industry-specific free zones throughout the city. These free zones and clusters spurred re-exporting activities. In 2012, Dubai’s re-exports reached around $43 billion, or 77% of the UAE’s total re-exports volume.


  • Dubai opened a tax-free infotech hub, Dubai Internet City in 2000, to attract technology companies, media, finance and maritime projects.
  • The Palm Jumeirah, an artificial manmade archipelago opened on May 9, 2009.
  • In 2003, the Dubai Marina was established.
  • In 2010 two major works opened; Dubai International Airport and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.


  • Dubai today is a tourism, trade and logistics hub and has earned itself the reputation of being the ‘gateway between the east and the west.’ It is considered to be the dynamic nucleus of the Arabian gulf region.
  • Dubai’s lure for tourists is based mainly on shopping and various modern and ancient attractions.
  • As of 2010, Dubai was the 7th most visited city of the world with 7.6 million visitors a year.
  • Dubai is expected to accommodate over 15 million tourists by 2015.
  • Large scale real estate development projects have led to the construction of some of the tallest skyscrapers and largest projects in the world such as the Burj Khalifa Tower, the Emirates Towers, the Palm Islands and currently, the world’s most expensive hotel, the Burj Al Arab.
  • As of Q4 2006, Dubai’s trading volume of 400 billion shares was worth USD 95 billion.
  • Most of the new city’s banking and financial headquarters were located in the port area.


Share on Facebook Share on twitter Email


login or sign up to comment...

Project info




1966 - Present


Evolution from an economy historically built on the oil industry to a model of business based on tourism, real estate and financial services.


Dubai has emerged as a cosmopolitan metropolis that has grown steadily to become a global city and a business and cultural hub of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region.




Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Dubai 1991

Dubai 2005