Originally a small fishing settlement, Dubai was
taken over around 1830 by a branch of the Bani Yas
tribe from the Liwa oasis led by the Maktoum family
who still rule the emirate today.
Traditional activities included herding sheep and
goats, cultivating dates, fishing and pearling.
The liberal attitudes of the emirate's rulers made
Dubai attractive to traders from India and Persia
who began to settle in the growing town, which soon
developed a strong reputation as the leading entrepôt
for the region
An independent emirate for most of its history, in
1971 Dubai came together with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah,
Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and (in 1972) Ras Al
Khaimah to create the federation of the United Arab
The discovery of oil in 1966 dramatically transformed
the emirate by allowing the development of the economic
and social infrastructure which laid the foundations
for today's modern society.
Much of the credit for this development can be traced
to the vision of the late Ruler, HH Sheikh Rashid
bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who ensured that Dubai's oil
revenues were deployed to maximum effect.
His work has been continued by the present Ruler,
HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The second largest of the seven emirates which make
up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is located on the
southern shore of the Arabian Gulf. It has an area
of some 3,900 square kilometres.
Outside the city itself, the emirate is sparsely
inhabited and characterised by desert vegetation.
The landscape ranges from rugged mountains to majestic
sand dunes. These days, oil contributes just twenty
per cent of economic production. Trading, manufacturing
and services -- including tourism -- now dominate
The UAE is four hours ahead of GMT.