Dubai has shifted from the predominant oil sector to the tourism sector due to the awareness of the limited resource left of oil. Instead it has diversified into tourism industry predominantly due to complimenting factors of landscape and wealth to ensure development. However the question remains is it sustainable for Dubai. Tourism will be analysed under the criteria of suitability which has three elements of economic, environmental and socio-political. Looking at the impacts of tourism today and are they suitable for the future.
Conclusion evaluates the sustainability of tourism, but also addresses other issues which may also impact the issue of suitability of tourism for Dubai. Dubai is one the seven states that constitutes the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the eastern Arabian peninsular. Location of Dubai can be seen on the map below. Dubai became part of the UAE in 1971; a constitution was adopted with Islam as the state religion.
UAE shares, legal, political, military and economic functions with the other emirates within the federal framework. However each emirate has jurisdiction over some functions such as provision and upkeep of local facilities. Dubai is the largest in population of 1,321,453 in 2007 (ameinfo.com) and is the second largest in the emirates after Abu Dhabi with an area of 3385 km ï¿½. Dubai has been ruled by the Al Maktoum Dynasty since the 1833.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the ruler of Dubai, as well as the UAE’s vice-president and prime minister. Dubai is prospering economically with the 2007 GDP to pass $188bn, with an increase of 15.6% from 2006. The first inhabitants of Dubai were during 80,000 BC. More lasting settlers came during 7th Century AD, where the Umayyads came to spread Islam. Dubai remaining fishing settlement until the late 16th Centaury until it was opened to outside word, where it was used as a stop over for the routes between Europe and the East. Some also traded for the pearls harvested in the gulf waters. During the British colonial rule in India it became a main trading route.
In 1833, members from Al bu Falasah, led by the Maktoum family (part of the Baniyas tribe), a disgruntled faction of Abu Dhabi’s ruling clique, broke away and took control of Dubai. The Maktoum family still rules Dubai today. During the 19th centaury, Dubai split by a 14km-long creek which created a natural harbor and established itself as a hub for entrept trade. Other gulf states could not compete. Traders preferred Dubai’s liberal policies-especially its lower taxes on foreigners. Entrept trade was the first and most important pillar of Dubai’s economic activity, the second was pearling. Offshore from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the waters were rich with pearl beds.
The First World War did not affect the region much, but it did weaken foreign competitors for Gulf supremacy. Gulf was prized for its pearls and trading convenience. In the 1930s, oil was discovered in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia-adding to that already found in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain. But oil was yet to be discovered; instead, as global demand for pearls dropped, the sheikdoms struggled to stay afloat. Only Dubai, which from the late 19th century boasted the largest Trucial port, managed to keep its economy alive through trading.
Lengthy rules of the two sheiks in the 20th centaury were a stabilizing influence on Dubai. In 1958, Sheikh Saeed, Dubai’s ruler since 1912, died, and his oldest son, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktoum, took power. He was the driving force in diversifying Dubai’s economy and modernizing the city. He built roads, expanded ports and improved the electricity and water systems. In 1966, oil reserves were discovered in Dubai. Dubai’s first oil export in 1969 was followed by a period of rapid development. The economic wealth associated with the discovery of oil in the Sixties and the economic boom during the Seventies encouraged the use of modern construction systems and materials.
Oil became the major source of income for the country. The introduction of modern technology accompanying oil excavations and fast exchange with the rest of the world, made the means of modern life available to the citizens. With the construction of oil fields, oil companies provided settlements for their workers and families. UAE became one of the large oil exporting countries of the world and Dubai was the second largest producer of oil in the UAE after Abu-Dhabi.
With the discovery of oil, this impacted the social political dimension of Dubai. Increase in the wealth of citizens they enjoyed the luxurious lifestyles. Good working condition and incentives were provided by the government. Citizens also had free education, healthcare and housing. The construction industry boomed due to the ease of acquiring loans and guarantees for the citizens. All types of buildings with numerous styles appeared, with the loss of the cultural architecture identity. People abandoned the countryside and migrated to cities in an effort to achieve a stable monthly income and better living conditions.
As a commodity it was very scares and remains in high demand; always securing economic income- from the oil sector. It is more of a need for nations to purchase oil as it is required for their economic purpose. Dubai was heavily dependant on in the late 1960’s and 1970’s gave extensive wealth creation and is the backbone of the Dubai’s economy. This was a primary source of trade and revenue. The oil industry is controlled by the government and they have established that oil will run out in the next 20 years, between 2020 and 2025 there will be no oil reserves in Dubai. Previously half of the GDP contribution was from oil reserves; currently it contributes only by 3%, estimated at $163 in 2006. By 2010 Dubai aims to have 0% oil contribution to the GDP.
With the recognition that oil reserves will be exhausted, the late ruler HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who ensured that Dubai’s oil revenues, despite being relatively modest by the standards of the region, were deployed to maximum effect. This was further continued by his son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Industries which Dubai has diversifies into is the information industry with the opening of Dubai internet city in 2010 costing $250m and development of the Dubai Media City which opened in 2001 and is now home to branches of CNN, Reuters and Dow Jones, among others.
But with the given natural landscape of the white sandy beaches and amazing sand dunes; traditional Arab hospitality; delightful winter climate; crime-free environment the financial backup for the extravagant and extraordinary investment and development of hotels and attractions- has created an ideal atmosphere, for Dubai to developed extensively its tourism industry. Tourism has further developed and is a lucrative option due to the increase in disposable income, with more people taking holidays and the greater accessibility. Dubai has its own airline, Emirates launched in 1985 and facilities provided from the Dubai International Airport which had 260,000 flights in 2007.
All this has created mass tourism for the general public who can now get cheap package deals and also a stop-over destination for further a field destination. Dubai not only attracts the mass tourist market it also has a niche market for the rich and famous, with the development of the palm island – the Beckman have bought the island of UK. Dubai has also become the much sough sought after venue for conferences, regional and international exhibitions and major sports events such as the Dubai World Cup.
The growth of tourism has been immense; it is expected to over take oil exports as an important source of revenue in the near future. tourism industry accounts for a steadily increasing percentage of the GDP, with the combined tourism and retail sector in contributes to more than 20 per cent of the GDP Tourism currently accommodates 7 million tourist a year and it is predicted to reach 15 million by 2010. Dubai’s airport logged 24.7 million passengers in 2005, a 14% increase from 2004.