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The city of Dubai is the main city of the emirate of Dubai. The city is sometimes called "Dubai City" to prevent it from being mixed up with the emirate. Although stone tools have been found at many archaeological sites, little is known about the UAE's early inhabitants as only a few settlements have been found. Many ancient towns in the area were trading centres between the Eastern and Western worlds. The area was covered with sand about 5, years ago as the coast retreated inland, becoming part of the city's present coastline.
Pre-Islamic ceramics have been found from the 3rd and 4th centuries. Prior to the introduction of Islam to the area, the people in this region worshiped Bajir or Bajar. After the spread of Islam in the region, the Umayyad Caliph of the eastern Islamic world invaded south-east Arabia and drove out the Sassanians. The Venetian pearl merchant Gasparo Balbi visited the area in and mentioned Dubai Dibei for its pearling industry. Dubai is thought to have been established as a fishing village in the early 18th century and was, by , a town of some 7— members of the Baniyas tribe and subject to the rule of Sheikh Tahnoon of Abu Dhabi.
In , following tribal feuding, members of the Al Bu Falasa tribe seceded from Abu Dhabi and established themselves in Dubai. Dubai signed the first treaty of Perpetual Maritime Truce in along with other Trucial States, which was followed by a further treaty in It also — like its neighbours on the Trucial Coast — entered into an exclusivity agreement in which the United Kingdom took responsibility for the emirate's security in Two catastrophes struck the town during the s.
First, in , a smallpox epidemic broke out in the Bur Dubai locality, forcing residents to relocate east to Deira. Then, in , fire swept through Deira, burning down most homes. However, the town's geographical location continued to attract traders and merchants from around the region. The emir of Dubai was keen to attract foreign traders and lowered trade tax brackets, which lured traders away from Sharjah and Bandar Lengeh, the region's main trade hubs at the time.
Persian merchants naturally looked across to the Arab shore of the Persian Gulf finally making their homes in Dubai. They continued to trade with Lingah, however, as do many of the dhows in Dubai Creek today, and they named their district Bastakiya, after the Bastak region in southern Persia.
Dubai's geographical proximity to Iran made it an important trade location. The town of Dubai was an important port of call for foreign tradesmen, chiefly those from Iran, many of whom eventually settled in the town. By the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port. Dubai was known for its pearl exports until the s; the pearl trade was damaged irreparably by the Great Depression in the s and the innovation of cultured pearls.
With the collapse of the pearling industry, Dubai fell into a deep depression and many residents starved or migrated to other parts of the Persian Gulf. In the early days since its inception, Dubai was constantly at odds with Abu Dhabi.
In , a border dispute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the northern sector of their mutual border escalated into war. Arbitration by the British and the creation of a buffer frontier running south eastwards from the coast at Ras Hasian resulted in a temporary cessation of hostilities. Despite a lack of oil, Dubai's ruler from , Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, used revenue from trading activities to build infrastructure. Private companies were established to build and operate infrastructure, including electricity, telephone services and both the ports and airport operators.
An airport of sorts a runway built on salt flats was established in Dubai in the s and, in , the emirate's first hotel, the Airlines Hotel, was constructed. This was followed by the Ambassador and Carlton Hotels in Early the next morning in heavy seas off Umm al-Quwain, an explosion tore out the second class cabins and started fires.
The captain gave the order to abandon ship but two lifeboats capsized and a second explosion occurred. A flotilla of small boats from Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm al-Quwain picked up survivors but in all lives were lost in the disaster. In the British Political Agent noted that "Many new houses and blocks of offices and flats are being built More and more European and Arab firms are opening up and the future looks bright.
In , with expenditure on infrastructure projects already approaching levels some thought imprudent, Sheikh Rashid approached his brother in law, the Ruler of Qatar, for a loan to build the first bridge crossing Dubai's creek. This crossing was finished in May and was paid for by a toll levied on the crossing from the Dubai side of the creek to the Deira side.
BOAC was originally reluctant to start regular flights between Bombay and Dubai, fearing a lack of demand for seats. However, by the time the asphalt runway of Dubai Airport was constructed in , opening Dubai to both regional and long haul traffic, a number of foreign airlines were competing for landing rights.
In a new airport terminal building was constructed which included Dubai's first duty-free shops. After years of exploration following large finds in neighbouring Abu Dhabi, oil was eventually discovered in territorial waters off Dubai in , albeit in far smaller quantities. The first field was named 'Fateh' or 'good fortune'. This led the emirate to grant concessions to international oil companies, thus leading to a massive influx of foreign workers, mainly Asians and Middle easterners.
As part of the infrastructure for pumping and transporting oil from the Fateh field, located offshore of the Jebel Ali area of Dubai, a number of 50, gallon storage tanks were built, known locally as 'Kazzans', by welding them together on the beach and then digging them out and floating them to drop onto the seabed at the Fateh field.
Dubai had already embarked on a period of infrastructural development and expansion. Oil revenue, flowing from onwards supported a period of growth with Sheikh Rashid embarking on a policy of building infrastructure and a diversified trading economy before the emirate's limited reserves were depleted.
Critically, one of the first major projects Sheikh Rashid embarked upon when oil revenue started to flow was the construction of Port Rashid, a deep water free port constructed by British company Halcrow. Originally intended to be a four-berth port, it was extended to sixteen berths as construction was ongoing. The project was an outstanding success, with shipping queuing to access the new facilities.
The port was inaugurated on 5 October , although its berths were each pressed into use as soon as they had been built. Port Rashid was to be further expanded in to add a further 35 berths before the larger port of Jebel Ali was constructed.
Port Rashid was the first of a swathe of projects designed to create a modern trading infrastructure, including roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. Dubai and the other 'trucial states' had long been a British protectorate where the British took care of foreign policy and defence, as well as arbitrating between the rulers of the Eastern Gulf. The decision was to pitch the coastal emirates, together with Qatar and Bahrain , into fevered negotiations to fill the political vacuum that the British withdrawal would leave behind.
The two agreed to work towards bringing the other emirates, including Qatar and Bahrain, into the union. Over the next two years, negotiations and meetings of the rulers followed -often stormy- as a form of union was thrashed out. The nine-state union was never to recover from the October meeting where heavy-handed British intervention resulted in a walk-out by Qatar and Ras Al Khaimah.
Bahrain and Qatar were to drop out of talks, leaving six emirates to agree on union on 18 July In , Dubai joined the other emirates to adopt a uniform currency: In that same year, the prior monetary union with Qatar was dissolved and the UAE Dirham was introduced throughout the Emirates.
During the s, Dubai continued to grow from revenues generated from oil and trade, even as the city saw an influx of immigrants fleeing the Lebanese civil war. Border disputes between the emirates continued even after the formation of the UAE; it was only in that a formal compromise was reached that ended disagreements. The Jebel Ali port was established in Dubai airport and the aviation industry also continued to grow. The Gulf War of had a negative financial effect on the city, as depositors withdrew their money and traders withdrew their trade, but subsequently, the city recovered in a changing political climate and thrived.
Later in the s, many foreign trading communities—first from Kuwait , during the Gulf War, and later from Bahrain , during the Shia unrest—moved their businesses to Dubai. Large increases in oil prices after the Gulf War encouraged Dubai to continue to focus on free trade and tourism.
The emirate of Dubai shares borders with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast, and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast.
Hatta, a minor exclave of the emirate, is surrounded on three sides by Oman and by the emirates of Ajman in the west and Ras Al Khaimah in the north. The Persian Gulf borders the western coast of the emirate. Dubai lies directly within the Arabian Desert. However, the topography of Dubai is significantly different from that of the southern portion of the UAE in that much of Dubai's landscape is highlighted by sandy desert patterns, while gravel deserts dominate much of the southern region of the country.
The sand consists mostly of crushed shell and coral and is fine, clean and white. East of the city, the salt-crusted coastal plains, known as sabkha , give way to a north-south running line of dunes. Farther east, the dunes grow larger and are tinged red with iron oxide.
The flat sandy desert gives way to the Western Hajar Mountains, which run alongside Dubai's border with Oman at Hatta. The Western Hajar chain has an arid, jagged and shattered landscape, whose mountains rise to about 1, metres 4, feet in some places. Dubai has no natural river bodies or oases; however, Dubai does have a natural inlet, Dubai Creek, which has been dredged to make it deep enough for large vessels to pass through.
Dubai also has multiple gorges and waterholes, which dot the base of the Western Al Hajar mountains. A vast sea of sand dunes covers much of southern Dubai and eventually leads into the desert known as The Empty Quarter. Seismically , Dubai is in a very stable zone—the nearest seismic fault line, the Zagros Fault, is kilometres miles from the UAE and is unlikely to have any seismic impact on Dubai. Experts also predict that the possibility of a tsunami in the region is minimal because the Persian Gulf waters are not deep enough to trigger a tsunami.
The sandy desert surrounding the city supports wild grasses and occasional date palms. Desert hyacinths grow in the sabkha plains east of the city, while acacia and ghaf trees grow in the flat plains within the proximity of the Western Al Hajar mountains. Several indigenous trees such as the date palm and neem as well as imported trees such as the eucalypts grow in Dubai's natural parks.
The houbara bustard , striped hyena , caracal , desert fox , falcon and Arabian oryx are common in Dubai's desert. Dubai is on the migration path between Europe, Asia and Africa, and more than migratory bird species pass through the emirate in spring and autumn. The waters of Dubai are home to more than species of fish, including the hammour. The typical marine life off the Dubai coast includes tropical fish, jellyfish, coral, dugong , dolphins, whales and sharks.
Various types of turtles can also be found in the area including the hawksbill turtle and green turtle , which are listed as endangered species. Dubai Creek runs northeast-southwest through the city. The eastern section of the city forms the locality of Deira and is flanked by the emirate of Sharjah in the east and the town of Al Aweer in the south.
Much of Dubai's real-estate boom is concentrated to the west of Dubai Creek, on the Jumeirah coastal belt. Dubai has a hot desert climate. Most days are sunny throughout the year. Precipitation, however, has been increasing in the last few decades, with accumulated rain reaching Dubai summers are also known for the moderate to high humidity level, which can make it uncomfortable for many.