Present-day Dubai is synonymous with elegance, opulence and indulgence. The emirate of excess has become a playground for the world’s rich and famous. The roads are lined with over-the-top malls & luxurious hotels and its distinctive skyline is marked by ambitious skyscrapers. As Dubai continues to flourish, so does the prosperity of its residents. However, 50 years before Dubai acquired its status as Middle East’s Manhattan, it looked drastically different. The transformation has been staggering and these old pictures of Dubai, taken from The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, form a beautiful timeline from ‘Dubai-of-the-Past’ to ‘Present-day-Dubai’.
Taken during the 1960s, these pictures present a stark contrast to the dynamic and diverse Dubai we all know. The 60s were a defining decade for the emirate as the discovery of oil changed the destiny of Dubai. The first oil field was aptly called ‘Fateh’ meaning ‘good fortune’. Since then, even as oil prices fluctuated, Dubai has safely secured its economy by emerging as a global tourist destination, starting in the mid 1980s.
The transformation of al-Naif souq
Naif souq is one of the oldest markets in Dubai. Once a camel market, the souq sells everything from textiles to electronics and leather goods to souvenirs, but no camels. It was partially destroyed by a fire in 2008 and, subsequently, redeveloped in 2010.
Shopping in Dubai
At one time, shopping in Dubai was confined to the dusty lanes of local markets. Today, world-class malls line the streets of the city. In fact, post modernization, Dubai has emerged as a major shopping destination.
The Clocktower Roundabout: Then and Now
A landmark, the Clocktower roundabout in the neighborhood of Deira, once, was a solitary figure in an area full of undeveloped lots. A few decades later, it shines brightly and is surrounded by luxury hotels.
Life in Dubai
Many traditions became tourist fascinations as life in Dubai evolved. Consider, for instance, the ancient art of Falconry. Falcons were once used as a hunting tool by the Bedouin communities in the Gulf. Today, Dubai’s Banyan Tree Al Wadi houses the most diverse and active display of falcons, eagles, owls, kestrels and hawks.
The dhows in Dubai, that were once used to transport livestock, are now used recreationally, such as for dhow races.
Once a dry and barren desert, the Dubai of 2016 is complete with world-class infrastructure, amenities and facilities. Modes of transportation evolved quite drastically from camels and dhows to Ferraris and the absurd transformation of Dubai is a phenomenon, in itself.