“A city that rose from the desert like a mirage”

–ShopDubai.com advertisement, 2016.

This image of Dubai from the 1990s shows the stark contrast between the city’s current development and its humble beginnings. More surprising than the scale is the speed at which this development happened. The discovery of oil in the emirates funded a developmental spree that transformed the trading post to the Middle East’s financial, tourism and economic hub. Today oil just contributes 5% of the city’s revenue; the rest is generated by the city itself.

It is this model that the Pakistani government has mooted for the development of Gwadar, in fact Dubai was often used in promotional material as an example. Planned infrastructural and tourism developments, that can latter sustain itself on the revenue generated. While the runaway success of the Dubai project is an example to aspire to Gwadar faces unique challenges that Dubai didn’t.; low-key but persistent insurgency, unreliable energy supply and limited funds. Considering the fact the Dubai itself is in vicinity – and thus competition – the port city of Gwadar faces an uphill task.