Dubai is recognised as the fastest-growing city in the world, a fact people bandy about with alarming regularity, as well as pride. But how fast is ‘fast’, and what does it mean in concrete terms, such as the number of schools, or the frequency of buses, for example?
It’s a tricky question to answer. Even the government doesn’t have stats from pre-1985, when it opened a statistics office to collect data for the first time. But it’s the past 25 years that have seen the greatest growth, and even those stats are pretty mind-blowing.
Since 1985 the number of passengers flying in and out of Dubai International Airport has multiplied a dozen times, from 3.8 million a year in 1985 to 47.1 million in 2010. Meanwhile, the number of visitors to Dubai’s museums has multiplied by nearly 30 times, from 24,000 in 1985 to 650,000 last year. There were 243 mosques on record in 1985, now there are 1,397; while the number of universities has surged from just two to 52.
Looking further back, in 1972 there were 41 schools, now there are 225. The number of annual library visitors has also increased tenfold since 1985, from 33,000 to 341,000.
The number of buses ferrying passengers around Dubai’s streets has nearly tripled in just a decade, from 305 in 2001 to 851 last year, although the strength of tradition remains strong, with the number of traditional abras used to cross the creek remaining steady at exactly 153 since 1998. The amount of food produced annually has nearly doubled since 1985, from 50,000 to 98,000 tonnes – growing in value from Dhs75 million to Dhs205 million. The number of farms in the emirate has also grown, although not as substantially, rising from 1,000 to 1,300.
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