The Emirate of Dubai (إمارة دبيّ) is one of seven states, termed emirates, on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf which combined to form the United Arab Emirates on December 2, 1971. Before 1971, the UAE was known as the Trucial States (إمارات الساحل المتصالح), in reference to a nineteenth-century truce between the United Kingdom and several Arab sheikhs; the treaties established an informal protectorate by Great Britain from 1820.
Although stone tools have been found at many archaeological sites, little is known about Dubai’s early inhabitants as only a few settlements have been found. Many ancient towns in the area were trading centers between the Eastern and Western worlds. The remnants of an ancient mangrove swamp, dated at 7000 BC, were discovered during the construction of sewer lines near Dubai Internet City. The area was covered with sand about 5,000 years ago as the coast retreated inland, becoming part of the city’s present coastline. Pre-Islamic ceramics have been found from the third and fourth centuries. Prior to the introduction of Islam to the area, the people in this region worshiped Bajir. After the spread of Islam in the region, the Umayyad Caliph of the eastern Islamic world invaded south-east Arabia and drove out the Sassanians. Excavations by the Dubai Museum in the region of Al-Jumayra (Jumeirah) found several artefacts from the Umayyad period.
The earliest recorded mention of Dubai is in 1095 in the Book of Geography by the Andalusian-Arab geographer Abu Abdullah al-Bakri. The Venetian pearl merchant Gaspero Balbi visited the area in 1580 and mentioned Dubai (Dibei) for its pearling industry. In the early nineteenth century, the Al Abu Falasa dynasty (part of the House of Al-Falasi) of the Bani Yas tribe established Dubai, which remained a dependent of Abu Dhabi until 1833.
The south eastern Persian Gulf coast was called the “Pirate Coast” by the British, who argued that raiders based there — particularly the ‘Qawasim‘ or ‘Joasmees‘ — now known as the Al Qasimi (the Ruling families of Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah), harassed British flagged shipping. The first in a long series of maritime skirmishes between the Al Qasimi and British vessels took place in 1797, when the British-flagged Bassein Snow was seized and released two days later. The cruiser Viper was subsequently attacked off Bushire. A period of great instability followed along the coast, with a number of actions between British and Al Qasimi vessels alongside various changes of leadership and allegiances between the Rulers of Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Sharjah with Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi claiming sovereignty over ‘all the Joasmee ports’ in 1823, a claim recognized by the British at the time.
British expeditions to protect British Indian trade and interests around Ras al-Khaimah, close to the Strait of Hormuz, led to campaigns against that headquarters and other harbors along the coast, principally in 1809 but then again in 1819.
On January 8, 1820, the sheikh of Dubai and other sheikhs in the region signed the “General Maritime Peace Treaty” with the British government, which aimed to end plundering and piracy in the region and was the first formal denunciation of the slave trade in history. As a peace treaty it was not a conspicuous success: skirmishes and conflicts, considered as raids by the British, continued intermittently until 1835, when the sheikhs agreed not to engage in hostilities at sea and Sharjah, Dubai, Ajman and Abu Dhabi signed a renewed treaty banning hostilities during the pearling season and a number of other short treaties were made, culminating with the ten-year truce of June 1843. Feeling the benefit of peaceful pearling and trade, the coastal Sheikhs signed the Perpetual Treaty of Maritime Peace in 1853, a process overseen by the British political agent at Bushire, Captain AB Kemball.
In 1833, the Al Maktoum dynasty (also descendants of the House of Al-Falasi) of the Bani Yas tribe left the settlement of Abu Dhabi and took over Dubai from the Abu Falasa clan without resistance, led by Maktoum bin Butti, the founder of the present day al-Maktoum dynasty. In 1841 the town was hit by a devastating smallpox outbreak which forced many to relocate east to the town of Deira, Dubai.
Separate treaties in 1847 and 1856 saw treaties undertaking the abolition of slave trading and, in 1873, a further treaty abolishing slaving was signed by Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
In 1853, in an attempt to further halt the endemic piracy, the British signed another truce, agreeing to stay out of administration of the region in return for a reduction in piracy. This also had the side effect of the area becoming known as the Trucial States. Then in 1894, a fire swept through Deira, burning down most of the homes. Perfect geographical positioning and thriving business enabled the rebuilding of the city. The success of the area led Sheikh Maktoum to sign an exclusive business deal with the British in 1892, making Dubai a British protectorate, and in 1894, granted full tax exemption for all foreign traders.
By 1903, the Sheikh had succeeded in convincing a major British steamship line to make Dubai a port of call. Merchants from Lingah looked across to the Arab shore of the Persian Gulf finally making their homes in Dubai. They continued to trade with Lingah, however, as do many of the dhows in Dubai Creek today, and they named their district Bastakiya, after the Bastak region in southern Persia. At this time, almost a quarter of the population was foreign, which seems trivial when compared to the 90% it is today.
Dubai’s recorded postal history begins on August 19, 1909, when an Indian Branch Post Office was opened. The opening of the Dubai branch post office was the result of pressure over a number of years from the trading communities in Dubai and Karachi. From August 19, 1909 to August 14, 1947, Dubai used unoverprinted stamps and postal stationery of India.
After various rulers, Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum who became Ruler in 1912, was the first Ruler to rule for a substantial period of time and is regarded by many as one of the fathers of Dubai. The times of prosperity thanks to the pearl industry continued solidly through until the Great Depression of 1929. The emergence of artificial pearls had begun to hit the economy of Dubai, and coupled with the effects of the depression caused the Sheikh to explore other opportunities for expansion. In 1929, he was briefly deposed and succeeded by Sheikh Mani bin Rashid, a relative. Three days later he was restored to the throne and ruled until his death. This resulted in the emergence of Dubai as the premier re-export business port, whereby goods are imported into a duty-free port and immediately exported to another market.
Dubai has the main entrepôt in the Persian Gulf and the busiest trading port since 1900, with commerce being the main source of revenue for the emirate. The merchant class in Dubai played a key role in restructuring the economy and government decision-making in the pre-oil era of Dubai’s development. Today merchants play a fundamental role in economic affairs and the political structure. In addition, again they have taken on roles as service suppliers, urban planners, culture mediators, and internationalists representing the region throughout the world.
Dubai suffered economically after 1920 due to the collapse of the pearl industry, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the loss of extensive trade networks during World War II. Until the surge of oil revenues in the late 1960s, political instability and merchant unrest existed and constituted an organized attempt to subvert British control and the ruling Al-Maktoum family. African slavery was practiced until the 1960s. The uprising of 1938 in Dubai was the culmination of a decade of grievances and minor rebellions against the autocratic rule of Shaykh Sa’id bin Maktum (ruled 1912-58).
In the 1930s, the Trucial Coast was characterized by great poverty resulting primarily from a decline in the pearl trade. Much of the initiative for reform sprang from an attempt to ameliorate economic conditions—the leaders of the movement having previously been successful pearl merchants. The new government established in October 1938 lasted only a few months before Shaykh Sa’id with Bedouin support was able to overthrow it in March 1939. The collapse of the reform movement is attributable to the role played by British agents and the weakness of the political structure that was set up.
After the division of India on August 15, 1947, the Dubai Branch Post Office was taken over by Pakistani postal administration. From August 16, 1947 to September of the same year unoverprinted stamps of India used and from October 15, 1947 to March 31, 1948, Dubai used stamps of India overprinted Pakistan. The Dubai post office was then transferred to the British Postal Agency administration on April 1, 1948 and British stamps surcharged in ANNAS and RUPEES were used during the period from April 1, 1948 to June 13, 1963.
A dispute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi regarding their border escalated into armed conflict between the two states, with Dubai attacking a number of Abu Dhabi towns in the country’s interior. Arbitration by the British in 1949 resulted in the creation of a buffer frontier running south eastwards from the coast at Ras Hasian. A formal compromise was not reached until 1979, eight years after the creation of the United Arab Emirates.
In 1958, upon the death of Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum became Ruler. Rashid al Maktoum is widely regarded as the driving force behind the expansion of Dubai, causing its massive expansion, with the aid of the discovery of oil. The dredging of Dubai Creek in 1963, enabling any vessel to dock at the port, caused the gold re-export market to take off, ensuring Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum was able to begin the building of vital infrastructure in partnership with the British.
Since the beginning, Dubai was constantly at odds with Abu Dhabi. In 1947, a border dispute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on their northern border erupted into war between the two states and forced the involvement of the British and the subsequent creation of a buffer zone which resulted in a temporary ceasefire. However, border disputes between the emirates continued even after the formation of the UAE and it was only in 1979 that a formal compromise was reached that ended hostilities between the two states, by allowing Abu Dhabi the control of the rest of the UAE, while leaving Dubai to rule many of its own affairs, especially when related to trade.
The government of Dubai took over the postal services on June 14, 1963. Stamps and postal stationery were used from June 15, 1963 to December 30, 1972.
The major turning point in the history and fortunes of Dubai was the discovery of oil in 1966. Coupled with the joining of the newly independent country of Qatar and Dubai to create a new currency, the riyal, after the devaluation of the Persian Gulf rupee which had been issued by the Government of India, it enabled Dubai to rapidly expand and grow. Once the first shipment of oil was made in 1969, the future of Dubai as an autonomous state was secured, and its ability to dictate policy in later years to the UAE was cemented.
In 1968, the United Kingdom announced its intention to end its protectorate over the Trucial Coast. The other ‘Trucial States’ had long been a British protectorate with the British taking care of foreign policy and defense, as well as arbitrating between the rulers of the Eastern Gulf. This changed with Harold Wilson’s announcement, on January 16, 1968, that all British troops were to be withdrawn from ‘East of Aden’. The decision pitched the coastal emirates, together with Qatar and Bahrain, into fevered negotiations to fill the political vacuum that the British withdrawal would leave behind.
The principle of union was first agreed between the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Rashid of Dubai on February 18, 1968, meeting in an encampment at Argoub Al Sedirah, near Al Semeih, a desert stop between the two emirates. The two agreed to work towards bringing the other emirates, including Qatar and Bahrain, into the union. Over the next two years, negotiations and meetings of the rulers followed — often stormy — as a form of union was thrashed out. The nine-state union was never to recover from the October 1969 meeting where heavy-handed British intervention resulted in a walk-out by Qatar and Ras Al Khaimah. Bahrain and Qatar were to drop out of talks, leaving only six emirates to agree on union on July 18, 1971.
On December 2, 1971, Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qawain and Fujairah joined in the Act of Union to form the United Arab Emirates. The seventh emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, joined the UAE on February 10, 1972, following Iran’s seizure of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs from Ras Al Khaimah. In 1973, Dubai joined the other emirates, in introducing the UAE dirham, the uniform currency of the UAE. Dubai and Abu Dhabi between them now hold the majority of control in the UAE, which was part of their conditions for joining. To enable this, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the only emirates who have veto power over matters of national importance, whereas the other emirates only have a vote on such matters. In addition to this, Dubai is represented by eight members on the Federal National Council, of whom there are forty in total. Dubai and Ras al Khaimah are the only two states who retain their own judicial courts, whilst the others are part of the federal justice system of the UAE.
Scott #123 was released on March 23, 1970, as part of a set of four stamps commemorating the 10th World Meteorological Day. The 1.25 riyals stamp portrays the TIROS-1 satellite along with a weather sounding rocket. TIROS I (or TIROS-1) was the first successful low-Earth orbital weather satellite, and the first of a series of Television Infrared Observation Satellites. was launched by NASA and its mission partners at 6:40 AM EST on April 1, 1960, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Mission partners were NASA, the U.S. Army Signal Research and Development Laboratory, RCA, the U.S. Weather Bureau, and the U.S. Naval Photographic Interpretation Center.
The TIROS Program (Television Infrared Observation Satellite) was NASA’s first experimental step to determine if satellites could be useful in the study of the Earth. At that time, the effectiveness of satellite observations was still unproven. Since satellites were a new technology, the TIROS Program also tested various design issues for spacecraft: instruments, data and operational parameters. The goal was to improve satellite applications for Earth-bound decisions, such as “should we evacuate the coast because of the hurricane?”. The TIROS Program’s first priority was the development of a meteorological satellite information system. Weather forecasting was deemed the most promising application of space-based observations.
TIROS proved extremely successful, providing the first accurate weather forecasts based on data gathered from space. TIROS began continuous coverage of the Earth’s weather in 1962, and was used by meteorologists worldwide. The program’s success with many instrument types and orbital configurations lead to the development of more sophisticated meteorological observation satellites.