Talk about the view from the top. 

It’s difficult to fathom Dubai’s spectacular transformation over the last few decades.

From a dusty fishing outpost in the ’50s, the emirate launched itself onto a path of hyper-modernisation in the ’70s shortly after it began to reap the benefits of exporting large quantities of oil.

Mesmerising photos of Dubai & Abu Dhabi from space
This HD video of Dubai was shot from space

It was in the ’70s that Dubai’s first skyscraper, the World Trade Centre, sprang up.


Dubai’s construction industry really began to boom in the mid-80s though, permanently altering the geography of the emirate.

From reclaiming land in the sea, to building new ports, to constructing the world’s tallest buildings, the last three-and-a-half decades have seen a scarcely-believable physical transformation of the landscape of Dubai.

Giving us an aerial view of this stunning change is a GIF recently released by NASA and tweeted out by the Dubai Media Office.

The first image shows what Dubai looked like back in 1984 and the next image flashes forward to show Dubai in 2017.

According to an article by Forbes who first published the GIF, Dubai’s population has grown from 350,000 in 1984 to a little over three million in 2017.

It’s meant that the emirate has had to endure a staggering rate of growth to provide adequate spaces to this population to live, work and play.

This image from NASA is thanks to its Landsat program of satellite imagery which was launched in 1972. The programme shows just how and how much cities around the world from Las Vegas and Beijing to Dubai have changed over the decades.

The visible changes in Dubai from space include a mega cluster of construction around Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina area, the Palm Island and a fully-operational Jebel Ali Port.

Here’s a time-lapse video, not released by NASA, that shows Dubai’s transformation from 1990 to 2014.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen images of Dubai from space. Recently, Russian astronaut Oleg Artemyev onboard the International Space Station showed us images of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah from space too.

A post shared by Oleg Artemyev (@olegmks) on

For those who’ve lived here long enough to witness this transformation of Dubai on the ground, we’ll leave you with these old vs new images of some of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks.

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Images: Dubai Media Office