Historical overview on the development of Infrastructure in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is famous at home and abroad for having developed its infrastructure at breakneck speed.  Most of this development has taken place in recent years although it is worthy of note that it started even before the Trucial States became a country following the Union of the seven emirates.

The discovery and export of oil from 1962 added a considerable boost to the efforts that were underway, with limited resources, in the 1950s and from then on, following the export of oil, the development and building took off at a huge pace.

This online exhibition aims to showcase some of the early infrastructure projects from the 1950s up until the end of the 1970s and does so with documents, photographs, videos and newspaper articles.

Author:  UAE National Library and Archives



Infrastructure Development in the 1950s


Early start of development initiatives, with the establishment of Sharjah and Dubai harbours, and the drilling of wells in Al Ain.



Infrastructure Development in the 1960s


Development projects in the Abu Dhabi Emirate, including urban planning, enhancement of the Maqta bridge, Abu Dhabi Airport and the Corniche.



Infrastructure Development in the 1970s


Major expansion in infrastructure projects development has taken place in all the Emirates following the establishment of the Union, including key facilities such as Abu Dhabi International Airport, Rashid Hospital, the Cement Plant, residential projects, and bridges among others.

An aerial view of Musaffah Bridge, September 1978. Source: UAE National Library and Archives

Early video from the 1970s describing the importance of infrastructure and showing some building projects in progress.  © UAE National Library and Archives

Footage of infrastructure projects and agriculture in Al Ain in 1978.  © UAE National Library and Archives

Aerial views of Qasr Al Hosn and Abu Dhabi city showing new roads and building.  © UAE National Library and Archives