Since federation, oil wealth has been invested into the country’s infrastructure and services to improve the daily lives of citizens and residents. The first paved road was built in the 1960s, but today, only half a century later, there are well-developed road systems, a metro connecting Dubai’s commercial areas, public transport systems in every emirate, and technologically sophisticated international airports—all within the lifespan of the older participants in our study.
The amazing growth and development of the UAE have drawn attention abroad. The ethnographic study of experiences and perceptions of Emirati elders that I conducted with my students finds that it is the evolution of indigenous culture, protected and preserved intact, that provided the path for development. The same mindset has prioritized sustainability.