One thing I didn’t really realise before I visited the United Arab Emirates and in particular its largest city, Dubai, was that it has only officially been a country since 1971.
It was the discovery of oil in the 1960’s that resulted in 7 separate Trucial States joining together to form the UAE, Abu Dhabi being the capital, but Dubai, being the most popular tourist destination.
It is still very much a work in progress and this becomes very apparent when you arrive at Dubai Airport. As you make your way to the main city centre, everywhere you look there are small patches of desert with building works, scaffolding and workmen busily constructing new offices, shops and hotels across them. Don’t let that put you off though, it all adds to the charm of this completely otherworldly place.
Prior to the discovery of Oil, the main inhabitants of Dubai were Bedouins or Indiginous Tribes. The Al Maktoum have been the ruling tribe since the early 1800’s and still rule today. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum being the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE as well as ruler of Dubai. His friendly face soon becomes familiar as he looks down across the city from various billboards. All this means though, with the discovery of oil, there was just not a skilled enough local workforce to develop the city, and this resulted in a huge influx of workers from all over the world and 83% of the population are now foreign. With over 150 different nationalities, the majority of people come from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but there is quite an influence coming from Iran too just across the Gulf. Resulting in a very multicultural, diverse, extremely modern city unlike no other I have visited.
Dubai is situated along the Persian Gulf Coast within the Arabian Desert and maintains a very hot and humid climate all year round with very little rainfall. It’s the perfect destination for relaxing on the beach, chilling round a pool and swimming or sailing in the Gulf Sea. Go shopping in both new and extremely modern malls or wander through the old(ish) gold, spice and textile souqs, don’t forget a trip out into the desert, maybe a cruise down the Creek and a ride on a camel is a must.