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Why Is Dubai So Rich?

Dubai city

How did Dubai become so rich?

Dubai is known for its wealth. It is a city of contrasts, where tradition meets contemporary. Luxury and lavishness are the synonyms of this mesmerizing city. Most people prefer to come here for traveling, holidays, and business purposes. This city has a lot to offer to investors, tourists, and businesses. Tourists love to visit this beautiful city because of its luxurious lifestyle, floating restaurants, gardens, and other attractions. People struggle for adjectives while describing the beauty and grandeur of this mega-metropolis.

Millions of tourists and expats come flocking to this place, getting attracted to Dubai’s luxurious lifestyle. However, it wasn’t the case a century back. It was considered a fishing village, which later became an important port that connected Europe to South East Asia. The region struck gold when oil was discovered during the Al Maktoum dynasty.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was Dubai. The achievement of this region has a long history and is truly fascinating. The story of the city’s riches includes the vision of the UAE rulers and contributions by millions of expatriates.

What led to Dubai’s wealth?

Dubai is undoubtedly a global business center. Unlike other Gulf countries, UAE’s wealth and prosperity are not entirely dependent on oil sales. Oil export and import are less than 5% of the economy of Dubai. Until the last few years, hydrocarbons played a crucial role in the development, but now it’s a minuscule contributor to the country’s GDP. The flourishing shipping business, transportation, tourism, aluminum, cement, real estate, medical, etc., are some of the wealth-generating businesses. The influx of foreign investors is another reason for this success saga.

Below are the reasons for Dubai’s prosperity:

History of riches

From the 1770s until the late 1930s, the region was known as the Trucial States, as part of allied sheikhdom under British Rule. During that period, the pearl business thrived in this country. Initially, it started as a hobby and sport that later turned into a significant source of wealth for the people who lived in the coastal villages.

In 1833, Maktoum bin Butti of the Bani Yas clan led his people to the Shindagha Peninsula near the Dubai Creek, marking a landmark in Dubai’s history. Despite all of the emirate’s significant changes, the Al Maktoum clan continues to rule today. In the early 1900s, it was declared a free port, and cargoes of silk, spices, and hardware were allowed to flow freely. After centuries, it now serves as the primary linking port between the East and the West. A wide range of things, including petroleum, aluminum, gold, metals, and consumer goods are exported and imported worldwide.

Emphasis on Education

After the United Arab Emirates was formed in 1971, education sector was developed and became accessible for all Emiratis. Primary education became mandatory for all Emirati boys and girls. Any country with a higher literacy rate is the key indicator of the region’s growth and prosperity. The founders of the Emirate understood the importance of education quite early and ensured all received quality education. The current education system includes both public and private institutions. Until 2001 public schools were not open for children of expats, which gave rise to multiple international schools in the emirate.


Till the pandemic hit, the tourism revenue reached $38 billion. For this emirate, tourism has been a strategically important segment. Tourism has contributed a lot to emirates growth and economical rise. The industry gave rise to the hospitality and retail sectors. The infrastructures and construction marvels are another attraction that bring several international travelers.

From Burj Khalifa to Dubai Frame, there are several architectural masterpieces in the emirate. No matter how many times you visit this city, you can never get bored of its infrastructure and the luxurious lifestyle it has to offer.

Technology and innovations

Dubai is always at the forefront of technological advancements. It ranks number one in attracting FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in AI and Robotics. The government’s visionary plans have created an ecosystem for tech to flourish. The city is also a thriving place for tech startups in the UAE. Whether it’s transportation, construction, IT, or space technology, the city comes second to none.

Several futurist technology-driven companies are involved in AI, blockchain, 3D printing, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart Dubai project is continuously transforming it into an intelligent, responsive, and personalized city of tomorrow.

Petroleum and petrochemicals

The discovery of oil was a crucial milestone in the region’s history that led to the transformation from a small village near Dubai creek. The export of petroleum and petrochemicals gave rise to ports, docks, and allied industries. Dubai Petroleum Company (DPC) is the main operator of the oil industry. The emirates oil production peaked in 1991 and generated considerable revenue but is now declining.

Expatriate’s contribution

Expats play an indispensable role in the success story of the UAE. The emirate’s diversified economy is built by people coming from all over the world. The city has been active in admitting and accepting foreign workers. Expat-friendly working environments and laws are other initiatives taken by the government to create a more conducive environment for foreign nationals.

Most expats came from the Indian sub-continent in earlier times. However, in recent years people from UK, Germany, and Russia have also considered making Dubai their home and exploring business opportunities.

Dubai, a maritime city


Dubai is primarily a port city. It enjoys an internationally recognized reputation as a logistics and maritime hub. Before globalization, shipping, import, and export were the city’s primary businesses. It became a large commercial port and hub connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe because of its geographical location. The industry currently contributes 7% of the GDP.

Jebel Ali Port and Dubai Dry Docks are the important ports governed by Dubai Maritime Authority and Emirates Maritime Arbitration Center. The place provides alternate dispute resolution services to companies.

Growth Strategy

“Dubai will never settle for anything less than first place.” – His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Dubai’s visionary leaders always emphasized investing and building around the four pillars—education, economy, government development, and community cohesion. The strategic steps taken by the government are guiding the city to achieve the highly ambitious plans and goals.

Truly Cosmopolitan

Dubai, which is also the Middle East’s commercial hub, attracts a diverse group of individuals from all over the world. More than 85 percent of the population currently being foreign nationals makes it a multicultural and ethnically vibrant city. You can taste world cuisine while here. The cross-culture influences have created a global flavor in the town that other emirates aspire to get. From food to education, from religious places to various languages, all add to the pluralist culture of the area.

Bottom line

Dubai has come a long way from a pearl-producing fishing village to a world-class city. The late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum initiated the region’s development with the discovery of oil. Since then, the city has been able to go forward with ambitious construction and social projects. Dubai witnessed massive growth in less than a century. It erected modern marvels such as the Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa, which have become synonymous with the city. The magnanimous city is growing and aiming to touch newer heights every day.