Port Zayed (Mina Zayid in Arabic) is the commercial deepwater port serving the city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was named after the country’s former President, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. One of the reasons the UAE has developed so quickly is this deepwater access to transportation by oil ships. Plans are underway to move the port to Waweelah to reduce the number of heavy goods vehicles in the city and free valuable land for development of commercial and residential properties.
Until oil brought wealth to the UAE, Abu Dhabi was a relatively unimportant small town. Tribesmen of the Banu Yas settled the town of Abu Dhabi in 1761, moving their headquarters from an inland oasis. Although the town was a capital for an important sheikhdom, its main function was to support nearby towns of Dubai and Al-Shariqah. In the early 1900s, about six thousand people lived there, and pearl diving and limited trade supported the economy.
In the mid 20th Century, discovery and development of oil fields changed everything. At the time, Great Britain was the protecting power. Despite its great income, the town modernized slowly. When Sheikh Shakhbut ibn Sultan Al Nahyan was deposed, his brother (Zayid ibn Sultan) began to develop a road network and built a seawall at the northern end of the island.
Beginning in 1968, the town underwent an ambitious modernization effort. It acquired electricity, modern plumbing, and a central sewage system. Construction brought government buildings, hotels, housing, and a new port extension. An oil refinery began production in 1976 on a nearby island.
When Great Britain left the Persian Gulf and the UAE achieved independence in 1971, Abu Dhabi was made the capital of the UAE. Since then, the city has been expanded with several major projects. Today, it contains many grand hotels and a wide range of modern residential and commercial properties. Today, over 600 thousand people call Abu Dhabi home.