Dubai City Information Site

History of Dubai

A Quick Overview of Dubai History

Hi Sunil here to discuss the history of Dubai briefly

I enjoy traveling a lot. It’s one of my favorite hobbies (but expensive!).

And I really believe that knowing the history of a place you visit just adds a completely new and different dimension to your travel experiences.

So this discussion is dedicated to Dubai history.

It is not a deep dive like an encyclopedia would do.

However, it’s a brief history lesson that will help you appreciate Dubai City more during your visit. At least I would hope so.

Dubai is one of the seven Emirates that make up the Islamic country of United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is believed that Dubai existed at least 150 years prior to Union.

It has the largest population of all Emirates and is second in land mass size. It is also the most liberal, modern and forward moving Emirate as it has developed faster and farther than its counterparts.

The earliest record of the history of Dubai is dated 1095 CE. No records are known between then and the second oldest record as of 1587, where the author discusses Dubai as a popular place for pearl diving. As you can see, the early Dubai history is unknown till today.

The royal family of Dubai (the current rulers) can be traced back to 1833 when the Al Maktoum Dynasty arrived to claim Dubai from Abu Dhabi (capital of UAE). The Dynasty was originally part of the Bin Yas clan that was settled in Abu Dhabi.

This is when Dubai became an independent Emirate and here started the ancestry of the current royal family of Dubai.

Dubai History There were many challenges early in in the history of Dubai.

Because of its ideal Geographical location that is conducive to trading, many tried to conquer and take over the city.

This is when Dubai City signed for protection under the British (back then Britain was a very strong military force).

Once Dubai was protected under the British, the royal family of Dubai took advantage of its location and got involved in trading with other countries.

Many traders from various countries (mainly India) came to Dubai to trade goods.

Dubai History

History of Dubai Currency

The Gulf Rupee was the first currency used by Dubai.

Dubai later joined Qatar and together formed the Riyal.

The Riyal was more stable than the Gulf Rupee, which diluted in value and practically became useless.

In 1971, to further stabilize its currency and its strength

Dubai joined Abu Dhabi to form the United Arab Emirates.

Four other Emirates had already joined Abu Dhabi and one more joined in 1972. Dubai then adopted the UAE Dirham.

The Dirham has been widely used for a long time. Because it was used a lot in trade in Dubai, it spread widely among all merchants and traders. The Dirham was pegged to the US Dollar back in November 1997. This hasn’t changed since.

Each US Dollar equates to 3.6725 Dirhams. Each Dirham is made of 100 Fills (equivalent of cents). You will most commonly see the Dirham abbreviated as “Dhs” and in some cases “DH”.

When I was in Dubai in 2007, there was some speculation (mostly rumors) that the Dirham may be revalued for the first time since it was pegged to the US Dollar. The speculation was mainly due to the devaluation of the US Dollar.

A lot of people rushed to the exchange houses trying to trade in their currency. Some made some quick money and some lost in the process.

Fortunately I had some spare cash on hand and rushed to Citibank. I was able to trade in my US Dollars for more Dirhams and later found an exchange house where I traded back my Dirhams for USDs, except at a better exchange rate. I wished I had my entire bank account in Dubai at the time :)

Read a comprehensive discussion on Dubai currency in this section.

Modern History of Dubai & Current State of Affairs

Dubai grew slowly and surely overtime, but no period in the history of Dubai was as dramatic as the period post 2005/2006 after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum took over the “Sheikdom”. Dubai’s progress is very much evident throughout this website.

Most of Dubai’s revenues are generated from trade and manufacturing. Recently, financial services have also contributed to the Emirate’s economy. And contrary to popular belief, oil, energy and gas revenues make up less than 10% of Dubai’s gross revenues.

Dubai History

This great contrasting image just gives you a glimpse of how Dubai has transformed in such a short time.

Dubai’s recent cash cows are its real estate, sports and tourism projects. It has quickly established itself on the global landscape in what seems like overnight.

Leaving the History of Dubai Back - The Current Regime

Dubai’s first ruler was Sheikh Ubayd ibn Said back in 1833. Since then many Sheikhs ruled the Emirate (all heirs of the Maktoum clan).

Dubai is currently ruled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (born 1949), a young and ambitious leader who is credited with pretty much all of Dubai’s success. He is the mastermind behind Dubai’s giant plan of success.

He took over the “rulership” on January 4 2006 and is also the Prime Minister of UAE. I’m a big fan of this guy because of his entrepreneurial mindset and his ambition. However, I do think he gets carried away with his decisions at times.

He is definitely a risk taker, just not a calculated risk taker. I mean why not? When you have so much concentrated wealth, you can defy all the odds. Money does talk and walk quite a bit.

He travels alone without body guards and likes to drive by himself despite the over abundance of drivers for hire in Dubai. Kish has seen him a few times here and there in Dubai, mostly driving on the freeway.

How do you know he is driving? Well in Dubai the smaller the number on your license plate is, the more importance you hold. So all the local Sheiks and Nationals have number plates in the single, double and triple digits.

Of course they all have 19 cars each, but nonetheless the lower the number the more important you are. So can you guess Sheikh Mohammed’s number? You’re right. It’s #1. See who he is here and learn about his ambition and plan for Dubai in the future.

Don’t miss this chance. There are very few public pictures, let alone live interviews of Sheikh Mohammed to be found anywhere.

Where is Dubai?

Go from History of Dubai back to Dubai Holidays and Dubai Information

Some Other Helpful Links:

Dubai History from another perspective

The Royal Family of Dubai

Dubai Weather

The Dubai Strategic Plan

Dubai Culture

Dubai Men

Dubai Photo

Dubai Currency

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