Today that empty desert is being turned into a vast new city.
When I first arrived in Dubai in 1992, Sheikh Zayed Road had a few low-rise apartment buildings on either side. And then in the late 90s, taller buildings started to appear
Some of the most prominent buildings on Sheikh Zayed Road include:
The Emirates Towers
21st Century Tower
The Dubai Dusit Hotel
Once a 24 hour free-flowing highway, Sheikh Zayed Road is nowadays clogged up bumper to bumper with traffic jams at peak times, particularly after 6pm.
It's a magnificent part of Dubai, and like something out of the 1920's science fiction film Metropolis, though the cars don't move as freely as in the movie.
The highway is named after Sheikh Zayed, who became ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966, and was President of the UAE from 1971 until his death in 2004.
Click here to view all Sheikh Zayed Road photosWritten by Aidan O'Rourke