Just how did a creek on the edge of the desert turn from a humble fishing village into one of the world's most advanced cities? This is the incredible story of Dubai - a compelling tale which leads from the early days of pearl fishing, through the explosion in maritime trading, to the discovery of oil and the growth of the city's iconic modern skyline.

Dubai Quick Facts


Capital
Dubai
Area
41132 km²
Population
2 213 8454 hab.
Language
Arabic
Currency
Dirham (AED)
Electricity
220 v / 50 Hz
Dial code
971
Time zone
GMT +4 hours

History of Dubai

Dubai is a city rich in culture and history, with a compelling story to tell which intrigues visitors from around the world. Within a period of less than three centuries, Dubai has flourished from a humble village centred around peal fishing, into the shining, modern metropolis you can see today – complete with an iconic skyline and some of the world’s most lavish malls and luxurious hotels.

The oldest recorded references to the place now known as Dubai dated back to 1580. However, the story really starts when the forebears of the current rulers – the Al Maktoum family – in 1833 led an 800-strong group of the Bani Yas tribe to set up home by a creek which provided a natural harbour on the Arabian Sea. That settlement, around what is today known as Dubai Creek, quickly established itself as a thriving engine of economy – providing an ideal focal point for fishing, pearl harvesting and various forms of maritime trade. Even today, you can still see the traditional sailing boats – called dhows – plying the old trade routes from Dubai to India and beyond.

By the dawn of the twentieth century, Dubai was firmly on the global map as a successful port town. People flocked from around the world to form about one quarter of the city’s 1930s population of 20,000. Dubai’s viability as a major port came under threat in the 1950s, as the creek – still at that time the lifeline of the city – began to silt up. Fortunately, ruler Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum made the crucial decision to dredge the creek. Although costly, this decision was vindicated by the huge increase in cargo traffic which quickly followed.

It was in 1966 that the story of Dubai took perhaps its most significant turn – and certainly its most well known. This was, of course, the discovery of oil, which turbo-charged the economy of the Emirate, and secured its future as a major global city for decades to come. Dubai soon gained independence from Britain and joined the fledgling country of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. Since then, iconic skyscrapers, incredible man-made islands and the heights of luxury have become characteristics of this great city.

Get in touch with our experts

Call 020 3823 7400
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us


Dubai 's Fantastic Four

The Most Handy Stuff or Things to spark your interest

Hotels

More than 349 hotels in Dubai to suit your budget and needs. From 5* luxury city chic to charismatic casas particulares and relaxed seaside resorts at the edge of town.

View all Dubai Hotels

Tours

Tours

Get a fully guided insight into Dubai's many attractions with our extensive selection of tours and learn as you wander through wondrous landscapes and captivating cityscapes.

View all Dubai Tours

Excursions

Excursions

Embark on a journey of discovery to some of Dubai's most enchanting spots, fascinating cities and natural wonders as you take your pick from our variety of islandwide excursions.

View all Dubai Excursions

Attractions

Attractions

Browse through some of Dubai's most interesting attractions and get a glimpse of all the main highlights you shouldn't miss - from quirky museums to restaurants, festivals and events.

View all Dubai Attractions


Popular Holidays in dubai

OUR EXCLUSIVE DEALS AND LATEST OFFERS

Best Value

From £349 per person
gloria hotel and apartments

Gloria Hotel and Apartments

4.0 stars

The Gloria Hotel & Apartments is a stunning suite and apartment hotel that is ideally located in the heart of Dubai. It...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £369 per person
rove city centre

Rove City Centre

3.0 stars

Rove City Centre is one of Dubai's newest hotels, offering a year-round outdoor pool and fitness centre. Conveniently...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £369 per person
ramada deira

Ramada Deira

4.0 stars

The 4* Ramada Deira hotel boasts comfortable, modern and grand interiors and facilities, as well as easy access to the...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £379 per person
centro barsha

Centro Barsha

4.0 stars

Centro Barsha combines style, warmth and convenience with a splash of elegant creativity to provide guests with more...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £379 per person
marina view apartments

Marina View Apartments

4.0 stars

Regarded as one of Dubai's most luxury hotels, Marina View Apartments is ideally located in the centre of Dubai's...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £389 per person
time oak hotel and suites

Time Oak Hotel and Suites

4.0 stars

This four star contemporary hotel has been designed to cater for both leisure and business travellers alike. Whether...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation

More deals


Explore dubai your way

Tailor made dubai holidays

For those who prefer to travel at their own pace or to explore places not included in the brochure itineraries, we have years of experience at organising tailor-made holidays.

Create the perfect trip with the help of our specialists

Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropiate programme to suit your interests, time and budget.

Call 020 3823 7400
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us