Text and pictures courtesy,
John J. Nowell LRPS
The tiny settlement of Dubai was first noted by the
Roman chronicler, Pliny, who described the Creek and the town
of Dubai as "Cynos" in the first century AD. In 1833, more than 700 members
of the Al Bu Falasa tribe of the Bani Yas moved
to Dubai from Abu Dhabi and formed the fledgling
In 1960, there was not a single tarmac road in Dubai. Today, the
city is a magic carpet of swirling road patterns, the most elegant of which are the
sweeping flyovers constructed around the Garhoud Bridge.
Dubai's offshore oil production comes from eleven reservoirs in
three geological formations. Prior to shipment, the oil is stored offshore in
huge sub-sea "Khazzans", the Arabic word for storage. Each khazzan is ninety metres
in diameter and seventy metres tall. They were built by The Chicago Iron & Steel Company
twenty kilometres south-west of Dubai on a lonely
stretch of beach that became known as "Chicago Beach".
(In 1960, the only occupants of the beach at Jumeirah
were the occasional fishermen who kept their catch in barasti (palm frond) shelters.
Today, magnificent hotels stretch into the distance along
the same strip of coastline.
Khazzans outside Dubai
Vision & Initiative
The Great port of Jebel Ali was conceived by Sheikh Rashid in 1978.
Local businessman Abdullah Saleh tells of sitting with Sheikh Rashid on a lonely outcrop of rock
halfway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Rashid,always keen to hear the opinions of others,
asked Saleh what he thought of the idea of carving a port from the desert. Saleh replied that
he thought many
people would see the idea as
ill-conceived but added that such a port
would be ideal to export the aluminium
from the planned smelter. Sheikh
Rashid also hinted that there would be a need for a small, privately-financed hotel to cater
for visitors to the port. Saleh expressed interest in the hotel.
Soon after, Sheikh Rashid gave the memorable instruction: "Dig Jebel Ali Port and
build your hotel." (Today,
the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ) ranks as one of the best in the world).
How it all started|
Historically, there was little to attract settlers in large numbers to the lands
bordering the Arabian Gulf. The cruel deserts and the lack of water made it a place to be
passed in transit
and this led to a high degree of isolation for the area. However, both the camel caravans
and the trading ships (enroute
to the well-developed settlements at Sumer, Egypt and the Indus) needed shelter
along the coast and the settlements of Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah
and Dubai gradually developed and prospered).
A land of pioneers
Ahmad Ibn Majid was born in Julfar in what is now the UAE in 1435.
were credited with the discovery of the magnetic compass and he
developed his father's knowledge and wrote the book "First principles
and Rules of Navigation." The volume published in 1489, was used by
the Portuguese until the eighteenth century. In 1498, he guided the
Vasco da Gama to India and the Orient.
Change with continuity
Some aspects of daily life in Dubai never change, only
the mode of transport. Since the coming of Islam, the devout have stopped at
sunset to face makkah and pray. Today the
camel has given way to an ultra-modern Land-Rover equipped with a Global
Positioning System which can give an exact bearing and distance to Makkah from any sand dune.
Text and pictures courtesy
'Now & Then - The Emirates' by John J. Nowell LRPS