No country today better illustrates the “something from nothing” concept better than the United Arab Emirates. A century ago, the land that now makes up the UAE was little more than a sand desert peopled by nomadic Bedouins, many of whom relied on pearl fishing in the calm, Arabian Gulf waters for their livelihoods. The Japanese invention of cultured pearls put an abrupt end to the pearl trade in the Gulf region, but the discovery of black gold beneath their feet opened new doors for the Emirati people.
Because the small country sits atop the world’s seventh largest oil and natural gas reserve, the few indigenous residents who had rightful claim to the land made a lot of money; like “Richie Rich” dump trucks full of money. Today, despite the fact that only 11% of the country’s citizens are Emirati, the UAE has the world’s seventh highest GDP. Accordingly, Emirati leaders have used their fossil fuel jackpot to finance a massive and unparalleled infrastructure development project that continues to this day.
During my recent trip to the county’s two largest cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I made a special effort to visit sites that exemplify the country’s dramatic growth over the past four decades. It was truly mind-boggling to see what technological and engineering feats men can accomplish [video] when they have a limitless well of funds from which to draw upon.
Check out all the glorious high-resolution shots from my trip to the United Arab Emirates in my set on Flickr.