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History of Dubai

The collective Arab shiekhdoms of The United Arab Emirates, UAE, had settlements as far back as the Late Stone Age (5500 BC) when the climate was wetter and humid than it is today. The early settlers were most likely to be skilled herders who for the most part of winter, lived along the coasts and offshore islands, where fishing and shellfish gathering were the main pursuit and moved into the interior in summer where pastoralism and eventually, horticulture were practiced. These settlers, however were far from being isolated as there are evidence of contacts with the outside world, most notably to the north with the Mesopotamian civilization (southern Iraq).

Around the 3rd century BC, the Umm an-Nar period began near the site of modern Abu Dhabi. Its influence extended to a large part of the interior and along the shorelines of what is now Oman. According to textual sources from Mesopotamia (which referred to the area as 'Magan'), the area may have been the seat of power for the 'Lords of Magan' against whom, several of the Old Akkadian rulers (southern Mesopotamia) waged campaigns in the 23rd century BC.

In 240 AD, arose the Sasanian dynasty in south western Iran where its influence spread to most of eastern Arabia, which included the UAE. The influence brought Sasanian Zoroastrianism and Nestorian Christianity to the region which would have inevitably, eroded much of Arab paganism. In 630 AD, the arrivals of envoys from the Prophet Muhammad heralded the conversion of the region to Islam. However, with the passing of the prophet in 632 AD, the region was plunged into war whereby a widespread revolt was quashed by the army of Abu Bakr, the first Caliph. By 637 AD, the Islamic armies were using Julfar (Ra's al-Khaimah) as a staging point for the conquest of Iran. Julfar was also the staging point for the conquest of Oman by the Abbasid rulers. Subsequently, the area of Oman and the UAE came under the influence of the Buyid dynasty in the 10th century.

The arrival of the Portuguese in 1498 brought dire consequences to the region and by 1515, had occupied Julfar, Dibba, Bidiya, Khor Fakkan and Kalba. In strategic Julfar, a customs house was erected to tax the Gulf's flourishing trade with India and the Far East. The Portuguese were to remain in the region until 1633. By then, the British began to make their presence felt, exercising their naval superiority and prowess in the Gulf. However, at that point in time too, a local power, the Qawasim also decided to make their presence felt, much to the consternation of the British, and by the 19th century, had built up a fleet of 60 large vessels. Sensing a serious threat to their influence in the Gulf, the British launched 'corrective' raids against the Qawasim. In 1820, the British consolidated their influence in the Gulf by destroying and capturing Qawasim vessels. Based on devious claims that the Qawasim were involved in piracy, the British imposed a General Treaty of Peace on nine Arab sheikhdoms, resulted in the area being called 'The Trucial States'.

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