Shaikh Rashid Tower DWTC
Image Credit:

Dubai: Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) marks its 40th anniversary this month. Since opening in 1979, the thirty-nine-storey, Shaikh Rashid Tower (commonly known as Trade Centre Tower) started its journey as the tallest structure in the Arab world and the symbol of business on the face of the Dh100 currency bill.

Since this it has become the centre of the 1.3 million square feet Dubai World Trade Centre complex.

Over 3 Million

visitors each year

Helal Saeed Al Merri, Director General, Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) and Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said: “Our founding father, Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, defined a bold vision — for Dubai to be ‘the’ globally recognised trade and business hub for the entire region, propelling a domestic economic agenda rooted in diversification — an unconventional and defiant position to adopt for any nation in the Middle East given the traditional stronghold of oil-driven GDP growth.”

Al Merri said Shaikh Rashid’s vision still guides DWTC’s mission and aims to soar to heights ‘beyond’ what many believed to be ‘possible.’ “His mandate since DWTC’s inception has been our guiding beacon in defining our mission and strategic priorities that have over the years focused on shaping Dubai’s core proposition as a hub for tourism, trade and finance.”

The iconic Shaikh Rashid Tower adorns the UAE’s 100 dirham note, a fitting tribute to Dubai’s first high-rise. Image Credit: Supplied

DWTC’s success “will grow even stronger as we enter the next era of enablement of the city’s digitised, hyper-connected, new-age business ecosystem.”

Since opening in 1979, DWTC has hosting over 5,000 business and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events, with an economic output of Dh200 billion, according to statement released by DWTC on Friday. In that same time, DWTC has attracted over 30 million business visitors to Dubai, 12 million of which were from international markets.

Over 5000

Events hosted

It plays host to over 600 events annually across key sectors, including technology and innovation, health care, energy and sustainability, real estate, food and beverage, hospitality, automotive and transportation.

“As His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, says, 'the race for excellence has no finish line'. Guided by this unfledging future-focus, with a vision to make Dubai the most innovative city in the world, our strategic agenda is closely aligned with our leadership’s aspirations, and the city’s ambitious goals strengthen our resolve to spearhead this mission, while expanding our knowledge base, attracting the best talent pool and empowering the UAE’s next generation to be future leaders of the world," Al Merri said.

Shaikh Rashid Tower, 40 years of success

Recognised as the Middle East’s first high-rise, the Shaikh Rashid Tower is an iconic landmark. As part of Dubai World Trade Centre, the emirate’s original skyscraper also has a rich and fascinating history…

1958: Shaikh Rashid meets British architect John Harris, famed for designing Dubai’s first town plan and significant buildings in the region.

1975: The original design is 27 storeys high. Shaikh Rashid adds 12 floors and a mast to outdo rival projects and build the tallest stucture around. 

1975-76 Image Credit: Gulf News

1976: Staircases are added to each corner aft‹er the US film Towering Inferno raises awareness about fife safety in tall buildings.

1979: Queen Elizabeth II opens the tower, heralding the start of Dubai’s global rise; Shaikh Rashid orders the exterior painted white to enhance it.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II opens the tower. Image Credit: Gulf News

1983: Dubai World Trade Centre grows beyond Shaikh Rashid Tower to include a separate semipermanent exhibition space.

1987: Halls 1 and 2 open in a major expansion of the permanent facilities available on-site, followed by Hall 3 in 1988.

1989: Shaikh Hamdan opens the exclusive World Trade Club on the 33rd floor to mark the tower’s 10th anniversary. Elite members are the ‘Who’s Who’ of Dubai.

1996: Halls 4-8 open, adding an estimated 300,000 sq. ft. of exhibition room. DWTC’s reputation as a large, world-class venue grows.

Shaikh Rashid
The finished 39-storey tower reaches 149 metres into the sky and remains the tallest building in the UAE until the Burj Al Arab hotel is built in 1999. Image Credit: Supplied

2003: The new look DICEC opens: a concourse connects Halls 1 and 2, the Convention Tower, Novotel and the Ibis Hotels; IMF/World Bank Meeting attracts over 15,000 delegates.

2009: New Shaikh Saeed Halls open: adding a total of 166,800 sq. ft. of event space.

2015: The DWTC Free Zone Authority is established by His Highness, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

2016: New Za’abeel Halls 4-6 added to increase exhibition floor space to a total of 1.3 million sq. ft. Phase 1 of One Central, DWTC’s integrated mixed-used development is complete.

Shaikh Rashid Tower is dwarfed by its neighbours, but remains a symbol of Dubai’s rapid growth from a small port on the banks of the Creek to a dynamic, international city at the crossroads of the world. Image Credit: Supplied

2017: Work commences on Expo 2020 site: Expo Village and Dubai Exhibition Centre. Phase 2 of One Central, including The Offices 2 and 3 is complete.

2019: Celebrating 40 years