Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates, located on the Persian Gulf. Although archaeologists have found traces of human dwellings dating all the way back to 8,000 BC, the region in which Dubai is located today experienced significant development only with the arrival of the Europeans. The Portuguese and Dutch held sway in the area during the 16th Century, and it came under British control starting at the end of the 18th Century. At the time, Dubai was still a village dependent on fishing and the pearl trade. It was administered from Abu Dhabi, the largest city in the area. In 1833 the Al Maktoum family settled in Dubai, establishing an independent emirate. It was a crucial event, marking the dawn of a dynasty that still holds power today. 20 years later,  together with other cities in the region, Dubai signed a “perpetual maritime truce” with the United Kingdom that put an end to pirate attacks against British ships. What was formerly known as the Pirate Coast became the Truce Coast. Over just a few decades, the area experienced considerable growth.
In 1894 Sheik Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum turned Dubai into a free port, eliminating customs duties for foreign merchants. Ten years later  he signed an agreement that turned the city into a base for British trade in the Persian Gulf. Around 1930, the traditional pearl trade suffered a sharp decline. Sheik Saeed bin Maktoum decided to focus on trading precious metals. He significantly expanded the city’s port, transforming it into a privileged marketplace for gold trading between India and the West.
In 1966, Dubai began exploiting its oil fields. The city experienced extremely fast economic growth and a construction boom that insulated it from economic repercussions when the British abandoned the region in 1971. That same year Dubai and other six coastal cities united to form a single nation: the United Arab Emirates. Towards the end of the 1980s, surveys showed that oil reserves would run out in just a few decades. Sheik Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum set out to radically change the city’s image. Many skyscrapers and super-luxury hotels were built, quickly making Dubai an exclusive tourist resort. Today Dubai boasts a population of roughly 1.5 million inhabitants, and is one of the richest cities on the planet. It hosts numerous sporting and social events and is also a tax haven, providing an appealing base for multinationals seeking to save money.