Dubai is a skyscraper-studded metropolis with ports and beaches, where big business coexists with sun-seekers. It feels like a Middle Eastern melting pot, and the mood is generally accepting, thanks to its big expatriate population.
The city expanded quickly from humble origins as a little fishing village first noted in the 18th century to become a significant centre of the pearl-diving industry. In the early twentieth century, the city flourished further because of its business-savvy royal family's efforts to lower taxes and welcome international merchants, and it quickly became a re-exporting centre for Persia and India. Dubai continued to focus on trade and recruiting investment in the latter part of the twentieth century, channelling oil surpluses into significant infrastructure projects such as an international airport, dry docks, and a trade centre while benefiting from moderate oil income. The city began to diversify in the 1990s, with a focus on luxury tourists, real estate, and finance.
Oil and Gas: Dubai's Main Resources
Petroleum and natural gas are the UAE's principal natural resources. The discovery of enormous oil reserves has turned this desert country into a developed country with good living standards. Oil and global finance have been the driving forces behind the UAE's economy for the past 30 years, with the country's per capita GDP on par with that of major Western European nations. In 2017, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) totalled $407.5 billion.
The emirates, except for Abu Dhabi, have nearly depleted their oil reserves. Ajman, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain are the only three Emirates where no oil has been discovered. Dubai's oil revenues have plummeted, and the emirate is quickly diversifying its economy to compensate for the declining oil sector. Although it was predicted in 2000 that Dubai's oil supplies would run out in 20 years, Dubai Petroleum Company remained the world's 29th largest corporation in 2007.
Dubai: Beyond Oil and Gas
Dubai's economy is not dependent on oil, contrary to popular misconception. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, it used what little oil wealth it had to improve other aspects of its economy by constructing physical infrastructure. With two of the world's largest ports and a bustling international air freight hub, Dubai's economy is centred on trade. The Jebel Ali free-trade zone was formed in the 1980s to encourage industrial investment; among the businesses based there are aluminium smelting, automobile manufacture, and cement making.
1. Travel & Tourism
Tourism is a major source of revenue in Dubai, and it is an important aspect of the emirate's government's effort to keep foreign money flowing in. In 2017, the tourist sector contributed $41 billion to the GDP, accounting for 4.6 per cent of total employment, and supplied 570,000 jobs. During the years 2007 to 2017, the sector's contribution to GDP increased by 138 per cent.
In 2016, 83.6 million travellers passed through Dubai International Airport (DXB), with 14.9 million guests staying in Dubai hotels, up 5% over 2015.
2. Real Estate & Property
From 2004 to 2008, the government's desire to diversify the economy from a trade-based yet oil-reliant one to one centred on service and tourism resulted in a property boom. Dubai has become one of the world's fastest expanding cities as a result of large-scale construction. The off-shore Palm Islands and The World, as well as the inland Dubai Marina, Burj Khalifa complex, Dubai Waterfront, Business Bay, Dubailand, and Jumeirah Village, are all driving the property boom.
The Emirates Towers, which are the world's 12th and 24th tallest buildings, and the Burj-al-Arab hotel, which is now the world's fifth tallest and most expensive hotel, are both located in Dubai.
3. Finance and Other Services
Efforts to attract foreign investment have intensified in the twenty-first century. Several free zones, such as Jebel Ali, have been formed to allow foreign enterprises to operate without requiring a local partner from Dubai. These have been enormously successful, with the largest housing almost 6,400 businesses, many of which are European or North American in nature.
Although Dubai's wealth has been entrenched in oil and gas; its beginning was in trade and as time has shown; its future is way beyond oil and gas. With its massive investments in travel and tourism and a focus on information and communication technology; Dubai's resources are so diversified that the depletion of its oil reserves will not in any way lower the progress of this amazing "Eden in the desert".