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Dubai as the Best Example of Instant Urbanization and Spectacular Urbanism

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Dubai is located on the Persian Gulf, and it is one of the seven emirates that the UAE form. Dubai is the second largest emirate after Abu Dhabi with a population exceeding 1.3 million which makes about 32% of the UAE population (Al Awad, 2008). However, it is ready to expand twice as much if you add the man-made islands: Waterfront, Three Palms, World, Universe, Dubailand, as well as many other construction projects taking place in the desert.

Dubai is the best example of instant urbanization and spectacular urbanism, because it got transformed from a desert to a global city, depending on trades and real estate and oil reserve. This essay is talking about the fast development of the country that makes urbanization instant. But it is not a normal urbanization, what happened in Dubai is really surprising, because just in 5 decades it became spectacular urbanism, with amazing points of architecture makes Dubai special. It shows the important times of Dubai’s small history, from the point the UAE united to our present, with all the crisis that Dubai passed by.

Dubai’s Transformation

There is a popular question that everyone is asking, how Dubai got transformed from a desert to a spectacular urbanism just in around 5 decades? Earlier, Dubai was the trades hub for pearls to textiles, which was a very successful field for them in that time. In the late of 70s, Dubai established Jebel Ali Port, that was the largest man-made harbors and the biggest port in the middle east, followed by Dubai Airport in 1985 (Matly & Dillon, 2007).

The Economy Growth of Dubai

Emirates has important supply of oil and gas reserves, but in Dubai, Sheikh Mouhammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum did not rely just on that because it is limited, and it was determined that it is going to run out in around 2010 (Matly & Dillon, 2007). He said: “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel” (Matly & Dillon, 2007). Since 1990, he was smart enough to not build the economy of Dubai just depending on the oil reserves (acuto, 2010), but the trade with Europe, Middle East, and Asia, while its neighbor countries were doing so. And one of the important steps that Dubai did is the World Trade Center in 1979 that opened more opportunities, unlike the other Arabic countries who closed their borders to the western countries and relayed on the oil reserves of their countries, their local businesses, while Dubai is developing their financial empire by the opposite through trade, business, and airline to connect with the world (Matly & Dillon, 2007).

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Factors that Helped Dubai to Have Instant Urbanization

By the strong economy that Dubai built, that what more projects were built rapidly in there that transferred the desert to urban, which we can call what happened in Dubai is instant urbanization, by urbanization Dubai became stronger in strong in real estate which added to the economy of the city, and that called spectacular urbanism. But, behind this success there were hidden factors. Firstly, is the laborer that came from all around the world to work for their families, secondly, is the high labor discipline because of the low employment rate specially after the global economic crisis in 2008, and lastly, is the rules of residency in the country, which is the one-year resident and they never gave the citizenship to other than the local people, but although people can immigrate to countries gives the permanent resident then the citizenship. Dubai soon grew to become the world’s top immigration hub (L.Benton-Short, 2005).

The Challenges that Dubai Faced

In 2007, Dubai got the result of the economic plan that Sheikh Mouhammad did in 1990. It was remarkable, which laid him to think about the future of Dubai and he put a plan for 2005 and was called ‘Dubai…where the future begins’ (acuto, 2010). But always there is difficulties that a city passes in while developing. In the late 2008, global financial crisis hit the UAE which impacted Dubai from all the economic sides, so he stopped most of the construction work or even canceled them. Even though that happened, but the ruler did not give up (acuto, 2010). Even though Dubai stayed effected by this crisis, Sheikh Mouhammad dreamed about the globality that Dubai achieved (acuto, 2010). And by that the city won this crisis. To prove that, in 2009 Sheikh Mouhammed attended the ceremony of lunching Dubai’s metro which is the longest automated metro network in the world, that connect all of Dubai together to avoid Sheikh Zayed Street’s traffic problem (acuto, 2010).

Dubai Kept Going after the Economy Crisis

As mentioned, Dubai became very important in real estate industry that most of the city’s economy is coming from it, for example the world's fourth tallest and one of the most expensive hotels, Burj Al Arab, luxury residential structures, including the tallest man-made structure the Burj Khalifa, and more that made an amazing skyline for the city (Briny, 2019). Dubai is famous with its artificial islands specially ‘Atlantis’. Year by year, Dubai took more projects that attracted the tourism, Khalifa tower is an example of that, and that laid Dubai to have Expo 2020 that might be postponed because of coronavirus that made global crisis in the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. The Expo 2020 aimed for sustainability because of the global warming Dubai has. And Dubai in few years took very important projects with sustainable concepts that are still under construction. ‘Creek Tower’ is the world’s tallest structure. Dubai nowadays is dream of a lot of people to visit or to live in. Even though it has a lot of negative aspects, like the weather, the resident, or the high prices, but Dubai is a step to the future, by its spectacular urbanism and beautiful architecture, which let them do the future museum which is still under construction.


To conclude, when anyone says that I am coming from the UAE, some people are asking where is this country, the same thing for Abu Dhabi they ask where is this city, but when that person say that he is coming from Dubai everyone will be surprised, because of the globalization that Dubai as a city in the UAE has. This city has work hard to be where it is now and that is all because its ruler Sheikh Mouhammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum believed in what he wants to create. So, he transferred a desert to one of the most beautiful cities in the world with a spectacular urbanism, and it happened in a crazy instant urbanization, although all the crisis.

But Dubai did not stop here, Dubai is still working on going to the future, before any other country, and they are making sure that they are building in a sustainable way, and it is going to keep going on developing more and more, and the prove on that is the projects that are under construction or planned to be, and the Museum of the Future is one of these steps. As well as the loyalty that the people are living there, although they do not have much facilities, is boring discipline that makes people want to work to make this country more beautiful with its future projects.


  1. L.Benton-Short, M. (2005). Globalization from Below: The Ranking of Global Immigrant Cities. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 945-959.
  2. Matly, M., & Dillon, L. (2007, February 27). DUBAI STRATEGY: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE. Retrieved from Harvard Business School.
  3. acuto, m. (2010, August 4). High-Rise Dubai Urban Entrepreneurialism and the Technology of Symbolic Power. Retrieved from elsevier.
  4. Briny, A. (2019, May 9). Geography of Dubai. Retrieved from Thoughtco.
  5. Al Awad, M. (2008). The Population of Dubai. Dubai: Dubai Economic Counsil.
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Dubai as the Best Example of Instant Urbanization and Spectacular Urbanism. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
“Dubai as the Best Example of Instant Urbanization and Spectacular Urbanism.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022,
Dubai as the Best Example of Instant Urbanization and Spectacular Urbanism. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Mar. 2024].
Dubai as the Best Example of Instant Urbanization and Spectacular Urbanism [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2024 Mar 1]. Available from:
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