Since the early 9th century, Dubai has been ruled by the Al Maktoum family who settled here at the mouth of the creek.Â Soon, the creek developed into a successful port, and the city began to draw businessmen and tradesmen leading to a slow but steady boom in the local population.
In the fifties, the silting of the creek led to another important milestone in the city's history. Â The then ruler, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, undertook the expensive project of dredging the creek.Â Now, the port could handle larger volumes of traffic and cargo, helping establish it firmly as one of the most important ports in the region.
Discovery of Oil
In 1966, this medical tourism center struck oil, and then began the next influx of expatriates to the city.Â The expatriate boom was led by people from the subcontinent, but other Asians, Africans, and Arabs soon followed. Â By 1975, the population had swelled by more than 300%.
The government, flush with petrodollars, began a process of infrastructure development.Â This was an exciting phase in the city's development, and within a few years, Dubai had a modern telecommunications system, a number of schools, hospitals, and a well established system of roadways.
Development of Tourism and Trade
In the early eighties, the city's leadership, which had put the city firmly on the maritime map, took its visionary ideas a step further when it began to approve ambitious investment in tourism development.Â The intention was to slowly wean the city from its dependence on oil.Â Large real estate projects were set up, and the city soon began to see some of the most impressive structures in the world.Â World-class amusement parks and dozens of shopping centers, each one grander than the next, were set up.Â
Today, the city on the creek is one of the richest in the world. Â Its oil reserves have depleted substantially, but current revenues from tourism, banking, and trade are expected to offset any loss of petroleum dollars.Â Medical tourism is part of the city's multipronged strategy to shake off oil income dependence.Â Dubai has a small but visible population of Western expatriates, and boasts of several medical facilities that are geared towards meeting the health care needs of these residents.Â In the process, the city has built up a strong reputation for the quality of its US- and UK-educated physicians and ultramodern treatment facilities.Â