Dubai skyline sunrise

Is Dubai a city or a country?

by Dubai Travel Planner

Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, is a city and an Emirate, but not a country.

The country is called the United Arab Emirates (UAE), of which there are 7 Emirates that form the UAE (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah & Umm Al Quwain)- we explain more about each of these 7 Emirates here.

Is Dubai the capital city?

No, Dubai is not the capital city of the UAE, but it is most certainly the biggest city. The capital city of the UAE is Abu Dhabi, which sits approximately 160km away to the west. You can learn more about Abu Dhabi here.

Does Dubai have a capital city?

No, it’s a little confusing but each of the Emirates (states if you like) does not have a capital per se. The largest city in each Emirate has the same name; so Dubai is the city and the Emirate, but there are smaller towns in Dubai Emirate outside of the main city, as well as areas within Dubai city with their traditional Arabic names and English translations.

So how big is the city of Dubai?

The Emirate of Dubai is 4,114 square kilometres and the city of Dubai although with no exact size as it’s continually expanding into the desert, was estimated to have a population of 3.3 million as at 2019.

The vast majority of the population live in the city of Dubai, rather than in the desert and mountainous areas (yes, despite being in the desert, there are mountains, much further south from the city!)

The population size of Dubai constantly fluctuates due to the huge expatriate workforce, predominantly from other parts of Asia. In fact, the local population of Dubai (Emirati’s) are thought to make up only around 11% of the population.

Emirati Men standing in Dubai
Those native to Dubai are called Emiratis. You will see Emiratis wearing traditional dress for the region.

Learn more about the cultures and traditions of Emiratis here.

Where is Dubai?

Dubai is located on the Arabian Peninsula, facing the Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf) to the north in the Middle East. It is considered part of Asia.

We share more fabulous facts about Dubai and its geographic location in this post here.

When was Dubai first settled?

The first settlements along the banks of Dubai Creek date back to 1833.

The modern city of Dubai came much later. The UAE federated in 1971, and much development occurred after this time.

You can learn more about the early settlement of Dubai in one of the many Dubai museums.

Can you visit Dubai?

Absolutely, in fact, Dubai is now home to the busiest passenger airport in the world – DXB – Dubai International Airport. In 2018, just over 89 million passengers transited through DXB, and 15.93 million visitors made a stop.

Being in such a central location in the world makes it a great transit city.

You can simply stop in Dubai for a few hours, a few days – or extend this to a few weeks if you love the warmth and sunshine!

If you are considering a stopover in Dubai or unsure what to expect as a visitor in Dubai, you’ve come to the right place. We are long-term UAE residents and have put together this Dubai Travel Blog to help you navigate your way across the city and plan the perfect trip to Dubai.

A few handy places you may want to start your planning

Is Dubai a safe city to visit?

According to the latest Numbeo Safe Cities Index (which looks at over 400 cities worldwide), Dubai is ranked the 7th safest city in the world, with Abu Dhabi ranked number 1.

We will have our detailed guide to Dubai safety matter out soon

Ariel view from a helicopter of Dubai Marina and JBR
The modern side to Dubai – the highrises of JBR and Dubai Marina set against the desert

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

Take me back to the Dubai Travel Blog

Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

Dubai Travel Planner

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1 comment

Fusheini Abdulai Kikaa September 22, 2021 - 2:56 am

I wish i can visit Dubai


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