Is Dubai Part of UAE?

Is Dubai Part Of UAE or a Different Country?

Dubai is currently one of the trendiest places in the tourism and expatriate worlds. It is no secret that the hype about Dubai is wild, even on social media. With all that fame, Dubai is often mentioned as the Emirates, but you do not often hear the term ‘UAE,” which is the country of the United Arab Emirates. So, is Dubai part of the UAE?

Dubai is one of the Emirates out of seven and a city in the country UAE (United Arab Emirates). It is the destination of choice and popular with its hype on social media, luxury lifestyle, skyscrapers, and nightlife. Therefore, it is referred to as independent, confusing it as a country.

Dubai is often confused as a country because it is promoted as a stand-alone destination, and the hype surrounding the place is enough to look no further. Dubai is, however, only a city within the UAE. You can understand that more in detail below.

Is Dubai Based In UAE?

Where in UAE is Dubai?

Dubai – often displayed as Dubayy on maps – is an official city and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai which is based within the UAE. The UAE is an abbreviation for the country United Arab Emirates. Dubai is situated on the Persian Gulf coast in the UAE, as part of the Middle East region located on the world map.

Dubai’s Geographical Placement Within the United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi – the capital Emirate of the country UAE – and Dubai are specifically located on the south border of UAE, with Sharjah (another one of the Emirates) on the north border. The Sultanate of Oman is a country that lies southeast of Dubai. West of the city, you can find the Persian Gulf Ocean.

The UAE is a country that borders Oman and Saudi Arabia, and is located near Bahrain and Qatar. Dubai is a piece of the United Arab Emirates and is misunderstood as an independent country because of its popularity. People often think that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman are part of Dubai, within the same country, or are the primary union.

It’s easy to understand why this happens, but the perceptions that Dubai is a country are wholly inaccurate. And although the city of Dubai is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai and functions independently on a governance level, it remains just one out of seven Emirates of the UAE.

How Did Dubai Become Part Of The UAE?

Dubai Emirate City in UAE

Dubai initially formed part of the Trucial States, a British protectorate which included several of the current Emirates of the UAE. The late leader of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, began Dubai’s first developments. The city was a small cluster of settlements, and Sheikh Al Maktoum started what is now a modern city and commercial hub.

In 1971, after many disputes between Dubai and the capital Emirate Abu Dhabi, the two Emirates united and joined forces. At that time, the neighboring countries Bahrain and Qatar pulled out of discussions around membership of constitutional federation of the Emirates, leaving 6 ‘trucial’ states to agree on a union that July.

On the 2nd of December 1971, the states officially joined the act of federation to become the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The union consisted of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain, and Fujairah. After the Iranian seizure (of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs), Ras al Khaimah joined the federation of the UAE in February the following year, creating what is now the 7 Emirates.

Dubai was then officially named as one of the Emirates within the UAE and is a city now well-loved in many ways.

Why Is Dubai Mistaken For A Country?

Dubai Mistaken For a Country

Dubai is often mistaken for a country. As a resident of the Emirate myself, I frequently get asked which city I live in. When mentioned that Dubai is the city and UAE is the country, eyes often widen, jaws drop, and eyebrows furrow in confusion. It seems incredibly difficult for people to grasp that Dubai is not actually an entire country and is not even the largest city in the UAE.

The beautiful location is assumed to stand alone because of the fame and popularity it gets in the media. When people travel to the UAE, they mention their destination as Dubai even if they will be visiting other Emirates.

This perception may have much to do with Dubai airport’s status as an internationally-recognized layover destination when travelling abroad. The Dubai International Airport is regarded as the world’s busiest airport, recording over 40 million international passengers in the period January-June 2023.

Apart from tourism, Dubai is known for its stunning skyscraper buildings like the Burj Khalifa and the mesmerizing dancing fountains at the Dubai Mall (labeled as the largest mall in the world). It is also home to the bests, longest, largest, tallest, fastest, and biggest.

One reel on Instagram will have you dreaming of putting Dubai as your next travel destination, not forgetting to mention almost every person wanting to relocate to the Gulf Tiger (a nickname given to Dubai because of it’s rapid and astronomical economic growth). The luxury lifestyle, nightlife, and excessive hype cause people to forget about the rest of the country and the six other Emirates, leaving all the focus on Dubai. Why then would people not misunderstand it as a country?

The Confusion Of Dubai As Part Of The UAE

Confusion About Dubai's UAE Inclusion

If you have ever seen or heard any promotion on Dubai, you know it is heavily elevated as a tourist destination. As you would promote other countries such as London, Turkey, Thailand, Greece, China, etc., as countries instead of mentioning the cities based in them, Dubai is always discussed independently.

People don’t mention the UAE as their destination. They talk about holidaying in Dubai or wanting to visit the largest indoor aquarium in the Dubai Mall. The country’s name is rarely mentioned. The excitement around Dubai and its fame have created the perception that Dubai is independent, that it is a country instead of a state.

On the other hand, it should also be pointed out that sometimes the perception comes from people’s ignorance who convey the message about Dubai. Dubai advertisements will want to promote the city alone for commercial and economic purposes; however, individuals can change the narrative and create a proper understanding.

Content creators, influencers, YouTubers, and tourists should make it a mission to portray the reality and discuss Dubai as a city without leaving out that it resides in the beautiful UAE, which consists of 6 other Emirates. Dubai is gorgeous, but there is also beauty to discover in the rest of the country.


Dubai is undoubtedly part of the UAE. It is a city or state – better termed as one of the 7 Emirates of the stunning country – the United Arab Emirates. It is mistaken to be independent because of its popularity in riches, lifestyles, safety, and landmarks. Still, it is only the second-largest city in the country after the capital – Abu Dhabi.


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