The discovery of oil in the 1950s changed the course of UAE’s history. Before that, it consisted predominantly of small fishing towns, however even back then Dubai was already a trading hub. The UAE was a major pearling center until the depression of the 1920s and the invention of cultured pearls by the Japanese. In the early 1930s, oil companies started exploring the area for oil and finally, in 1962, oil was exported for the first time from Abu Dhabi.