If a picture speaks a thousand words, then these portraits of Dubai suggest that the tiny Middle Eastern emirate is rewriting the history books. The two pictures of Sheik Zayed Road, one of Dubai's main arteries, were taken from the city's World Trade Center thirteen years apart. They were provided to our sister publication Private Equity International by Arif Naqvi, chief executive officer of Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital—and they leave little doubt as to why Naqvi and other investors are excited about the opportunities in the region. One of those investors may be Richard Branson, the mogul behind Virgin Airways, which last month started direct flights between the United Kingdom and Dubai. Never one to shy away from publicity, Branson used the opportunity to stake his claim on “Great Britain,” one of 300 man-made islands that make up The World, a development of reclaimed land shaped to form a map of the globe. Branson, of course, already owns his own private island, Necker Island, an exclusive, invite-only resort in the Virgin Islands. But in Dubai, where indulgence comes second nature, what's one more island among friends?