Dubai Then and Now

My sister-in-law (hi, Anna! :)) was recently talking about her visit to Dubai in 1998, which got me to thinking about what Dubai looked like when she saw it and how different it must be now. After looking around a bit on the internet, the best comparison I could find is this:

Dubai's Sheik Zayed Road around 1980, photographer unknown. This picture is all over the internet, but it's difficult to ascertain its origin. I got it from this website:

Dubai's Sheik Zayed Road around 2003. Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of


Sheik Zayed Road in 2008. This is taken from south looking north. (the two pictures above are taken from the north, looking south). Burj Khalifa is still under construction here. I love this photo because it really gives you a good idea of what the landscape looks like. Photo courtesy of

I am reading the book Pillars of the Earth which takes place in the 1100s, and in it, a monk sees the biggest town in England at the time. He wonders how men can be so “audacious” as to channel water from the river to bring it to the leather and wool workshops, instead of bringing their workshops to the river. I’ve often wondered the same thing about building a city like Dubai in the desert. Is it audacious? Or simply modern ingenuity that points the way to the future?


About Lynda

Longhorns and Camels is a blog about exploring Dubai from the perspective of an expat from Texas. It features stories about living in Dubai including descriptions of local culture and popular activities in the region. It also includes photography of the UAE and other countries abroad. It has been recommended by several well-known guides for expatriates: InterNations, ExpatWoman and Expat Focus.
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9 Responses to Dubai Then and Now

  1. Judy says:

    I love “then and now” pictures of anywhere, but Dubai is unique because “then” might only be 10 years ago for you to see a dramatic difference. Have you found the website ? They have a wonderful collection of photos. We first moved to Dubai in July 2000 and lived in a villa near the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. “You live all the way out there?” our friends used to say, lol!

  2. And that pic is in ’98!! It’s so different even now. Will be interesting to see it 10 years after we leave!

    • Oops – must be too many late nights here in Spain …. that picture is from 2008, not 1998, but you knew that. If I can tear myself away from the sangria, I’ll fix it. πŸ™‚ So true … will be really interesting to see all of the changes to come in the next 1o years. Miss you!

  3. girlvet says:

    iI don’t remember what it looked like in 1990-1991 when I was there inn UAE but nothing like it does now. I stayed in Al Ain for a few months. I think that the UAE is such a fascinating country. Would love to visit there some day.

    • ooh – I’m always interested to know what people thought of it when they visited many years ago. Yes, inevitably it’s much different now. We went to Al Ain a few months ago and tried to go to the “camel souq” (We could never find it though. Ironicially, this was my second failed attempt to do a camel-related activity!) We ended up going to the zoo there which was pretty nice, aside from the super hot weather. Al Ain seemed much more down-to-earth and “normal” than Dubai. Why were you in the UAE? Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Len says:

    The photo of Abu Dhabi Road ibn Dubai is taken around 1980 shortly after the Trade Centre Apartments (LH Side of Photo) were completed.

  5. Pingback: What’s It Gonna Be? Episode 6 – Get A Hobby | What's It Gonna Be?

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