The oldest houses yet discovered in the UAE are believed to date back over 6000 years (Dalma, Abu Dhabi). However, it is barely 100 years since the people of the UAE were predominantly nomadic Bedouin herders, fishermen and date farmers residing in tents or barasti huts.
Other than fortifications, only the richest traders or ruling families built more permanent homes from coral and stone. The discovery of oil in the middle of the twentieth century brought about the very rapid economic growth of the UAE and a transformation in the form and construction of dwellings.
Borne of concrete and air-conditioning, this period brought an end to the use of traditional methods of passive climate control that generated much of the form and aesthetic in the early houses.
Unfortunately, the era produced few villas of architectural note in the UAE, and it wasn’t until the very late twentieth century that the influence of expatriate architects moving to the region became evident in new forms and models of villa.