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These Old Pictures of Dubai Taken In The 1960s Show How Much the Emirate has Changed in the Last 50 years

Old pictures of Dubai

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’.

Mainland Dubai
The historical heart of the city ‘Bur Dubai’, translated as ‘mainland Dubai’, as development was just beginning Image source:

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.

Dhows on the city creek which was once the centre of Dubai's pearl trade
Dhows on the city creek which was once the center of Dubai’s pearl trade Image source:
A crew taking part in a traditional dhow race Dubai2
A crew taking part in a traditional dhow race Image source:

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.

Men gathered in al-Naif souq
Men gathered in al-Naif souq Image source:
Modern-day al-Naif
Modern-day al-Naif Image source:

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.

An open-market in downtown Dubai
An open-market in downtown Dubai Image source:
A plush mall in Dubai
A plush mall in Dubai Image source:

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.

The Clocktower roundabout in Deira
The Clocktower roundabout in Deira Image source:
Present-day Clocktower roundabout
Present-day Clocktower roundabout Image source:

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.

A man with his falcon
A man with his falcon Image source:
Banyan Tree Al Wadi
Banyan Tree Al Wadi Image source: www,
A camel caravan passing through the desert
A camel caravan passing through the desert Image source:
The people of Dubai also slowly grew-accustomed to the large-scale development that was happening in the city. After Dubai was declared tax-free in 1892, a huge number of foreign traders moved to the region. There was a population explosion, once more, after the discovery of oil. Today, expats continue to flock to the emirate to enjoy the benefits of it being a tax-free haven.

A traditional market in Dubai
A traditional market in Dubai Image source:
Markets in present-day Dubai
Markets in present-day Dubai Image source:

The dhows in Dubai, that were once used to transport livestock, are now used recreationally, such as for dhow races.

Dhows were used to transport livestock
Dhows were used to transport livestock Image source:
Dhows in modern Dubai
Dhows in modern Dubai Image source:

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.

A man smelling lemons and herbs, while smoking a shisha
A man selling lemons and dried herbs, while smoking a shisha Image source:

Also see: 12 Facts About Dubai That Make It Stand Out From The Rest Of The World!


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