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Secular humanist, freethinker, progressive, and bibliophile.

Once Upon a Time in Dubai

It’s amazing how much the United Arab Emirates has changed. It’s population has grown from a few thousand nomadic pastoralists to millions of urbanites from around the world living in some of the most modern cities Asia. At the rate it’s developing, who knows what the future will hold?

Today, Dubai is known as a gleaming, glittering cosmopolitan oasis, crowned by the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. But it was not long ago that the city was as familiar with camels and dhows as it is now with Ferraris and indoor ski slopes. The regional oil boom changed everything: As the Gulf states found themselves flush with trillions in petrodollars, the tiny emirate positioned itself as a financial entrepot and regional hub for construction and tourism. While the global recession hit it hard, leading many to speculate about a “Dubai bubble,” the emirate has rebounded nicely — its economy is projected to grow by more than 4 percent this year after reinventing itself as a financial safe haven amid the Arab Spring, earning a spot on what the International Herald Tribune calls the New Silk Road.

The following pictures, taken in the late 1960s and early 1970s, show a society just on the cusp of the ambitious development that would soon be its hallmark. Above, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and the consitutional monarch of Dubai, leads a camel riding party in his youth.

Source: Foreign Policy (FP)

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