(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Dubai's spectacular development is the result of a series of strategic decisions taken by the Rulers over a century.
All these decisions helped Dubai to stay ahead of times and that is the secret of Dubai's success. Shaikh Saeed bin Maktoum, son of Shaikh Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum, succeeded his father in 1912 and sowed the seeds of economic growth and laid the foundation for stability of the city-state.
Shaikh Saeed's son, Shaikh Rashid, took over the reins in 1958. Portrayed as the architect of modern Dubai, Shaikh Rashid pushed Dubai into the fast track of growth. He realised it was the lack of infrastructure that was hampering Dubai's development. Dubai did not have an airport until 1960. The Creek, a snaky sliver of waterway that winds its way inland for about 12 miles from the Arabian Gulf, was Dubai's soul and lifeline; it was also the gateway, the boundary of Dubai's small world. The decision to deepen the Creek was a masterstroke by the Ruler.
In 1958, soon after he became the Ruler, Shaikh Rashid announced that Dubai would be building an airport. On September 30, 1960, Shaikh Rashid inaugurated Dubai International Airport. The government also created an agency called Dnata to provide ground handling and ticketing services.
Today, Dubai International Airport is one of the busiest in the world for both passenger and cargo traffic.
Shaikh Rashid again found a great opportunity to act and to place Dubai ahead of other countries in the region. In 1967, a plan was ready for Port Rashid with the best elements of Singapore and Holland ports. He inaugurated the port in October 1971, five years after the initial earthworks.
In just five years, Port Rashid found its facilities inadequate to handle the load. So a second phase of expansion was undertaken in February 1976 to add a further 20 berths, including five-berth container terminals for the biggest vessels of the day. Even before the capacity of Port Rashid was fully put into use, Shaikh Rashid went ahead with a plan to build the Dh6.2 billion Jebel Ali Port.
In 1979, in just three years, the port was ready. It became, aside from the Great Wall of China, the only man-made structure on earth that could be seen from the moon. Another ambitious project was the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone, now housing about 2,500 companies from about 100 countries.
When the Jebel Ali port was in its planning stage, Shaikh Rashid was toying with the idea of a dry dock in Dubai. A decade later, the government said it would build the dry dock and opened it in 1979 with three basins, one of which could accommodate vessels of one million tonnes.
Another project Shaikh Rashid undertook was that of the Dubai International Trade Centre, a 39-storey building. For many years that building stood as a landmark of Dubai. Today, it is dwarfed by skyscrapers sprung around it, providing Dubai a Manhattan skyline.
In 1985, Dubai launched its own airline, Emirates, with two leased aircraft. Today, Emirates is the world's fastest growing airline serving 122 cities around the globe with a young fleet of more than 170 wide-bodied aircraft.
In the 1990s, Dubai began building luxury hotels and purpose-built complexes like Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai Health City, as well as industrial, commercial and tourism related projects. Following the death of Shaikh Rashid, his son, the late Shaikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum became the Ruler and another son, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai - who is also a visionary like his father - became the Crown Prince at that time. Since Shaikh Rashid involved his sons in decision-making processes, the changeover was smooth.
Upon the death of Shaikh Maktoum six years ago, Shaikh Mohammed succeeded him. He has launched new initiatives that would be written down in gold letters in the history of the nation.
Dubai undertook many huge projects including The Palm Islands that would lengthen Dubai's Coast line from 72 kilometres to 192 kilometres. Dubai invests in huge projects like The Palm Islands because, in the words of Shaikh Mohammed, "If you want to market your investment and opportunities, they must be visible - they should not exist only in maps or drawings."