1984 to 2018: how Dubai's coast has transformed over the decades

Google timelapse shows 35 years of progress

Dubai, 1984. Life was still largely centred around the Creek. But change was coming.

Huge new developments would extend the city down the Sheikh Zayed Road in the direction of Abu Dhabi, while ambitious land reclamation projects would take place off the coast.

These changes over the past three decades have been brought to life by a Google Earth timelapse video.

Re-published on Wednesday to mark World Environment Day, the animation shows how the coastline has evolved over the past 35 years.

From the late 1990s, increasing development takes place along the coast, but then in the early 2000s things ramp up.

Dubai's coastline in 2018 - the reault of decades of intense development. Courtesy Google Earth Timelapse
Dubai's coastline in 2018 - the reault of decades of intense development. Courtesy Google Earth Timelapse

The Palm Jumeirah, a huge reclaimed island in the shape of a palm tree emerges off the coast. It captured the attention of the world's media. And the opening of the Atlantis, The Palm resort in 2008, at the top of the Palm's trunk, also made a statement by Dubai. It came in the year of a global recession and showed the emirate was open for business.

As the 2000s progressed, we see the faint lines emerging of The Palm Jebel Ali and then The World islands. Palm Jebel Ali is still awaiting development, while building on The World has increased in recent years.

The video ends in 2018, where recent developments taking place along Dubai Creek, where the world's tallest tower is being built, can be seen.

Google Earth Timelapse, meanwhile, is a zoomable picture of how the Earth's surface has changed over the years.

Though Google has singled out Dubai, further south, a transformation of Abu Dhabi can also be seen.

While Abu Dhabi island does not appear too unchanged over the 35 years, the outskirts of the emirate developed quickly.

Residential areas such as the Khalifa City neighbourhoods emerge from the sand as Abu Dhabi International Airport's Midfield Terminal begins to appear by 2006.

Yas Island slowly develops with Ferrari World's landmark red roof appearing by 2009, the year of the emirate's inaugural Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Saadiyat Island is transformed from a desert island into a cultural hub with Sheikh Khalifa Bridge connecting it to Abu Dhabi between 2007 and 2008.

Notably, Al Lulu Island begins to appear just off Abu Dhabi Corniche in 1986, the land completely reclaimed by 1992. Another land reclamation project that can be seen is the slow expansion of the Breakwater seemingly starting in 1984 and culminating in the building of Marina Mall and the Marina Villas in 2005.

Updated: June 6, 2019 03:41 PM


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