Dubai is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, and one of the most modern cities globally. It is known for its shopping, entertainment and iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
Dubai’s economy was founded on pearling and trading among neighbors, but its rapid expansion since the discovery of oil in 1966 has made it a leading global destination. Using its abundant supply of oil revenues, the city has built world-class infrastructure, and diversified into tourism, aviation, real estate, finance, and the arts.
Its strategic location between Europe, Asia and Africa has long positioned the city as a vital business hub. The emirate’s Western-style model of business has attracted foreign investors, and it continues to diversify into the exhibitions and events, ICT, re-export, and financial services sectors.
The city’s population is largely expatriate, with nearly 88% of residents being non-UAE nationals. It is a multicultural society that features a wide variety of traditions, languages and cuisines. Its cultural activities are thriving, with the annual Art Dubai and Dubai International Film Festival promoting contemporary art and cinema. The city is also home to an extensive public library system and a number of bookshops in its shopping malls and commercial centres.
In the early 21st century, Dubai began positioning itself as a luxury tourist destination. It has spent a significant percentage of its budget on grandiose resorts and attractions, and its infrastructure has expanded rapidly. Wide highways and a year-round reliance on air conditioning make it difficult for pedestrians to move around the city, but a system of new bridges, roads, and a driverless metro rail train have helped to ease traffic congestion.
Dubai’s economy is largely dependent on its oil revenues, but it has built world-class infrastructure and diversified into the re-export, real estate, aviation, and financial services sectors. The city is a major regional trade center, with its two large ports and Jebel Ali Free Zone encouraging industrial investment. It is also a major hub for international sports events, such as the Formula 1 racing circuit and the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament on the European Professional Golfers’ Association Tour.
While the city is famous for its skyscrapers, it has a deep history that dates back thousands of years. Its earliest inhabitants were the Magan people, who mined and sold copper and bronze for trading with their neighbors in Afghanistan, India and the Levant. The area’s proximity to the Persian Gulf allowed them to develop a lucrative pearl export industry. In the 1930s, that industry collapsed with the global Great Depression, and it was only after the discovery of oil that the emirate grew again. Using its abundant supply of oil revenues, it expanded into the luxury hotel and retail industries. It is now a global leader in these sectors and is investing heavily in future growth. The city has also established several free zones, like Jebel Ali, to encourage foreign investment by allowing companies to operate with full ownership and zero taxes.