Is Dubai A Country? What is the UAE?

So I had a conversation with an American dude the other day, and he had never heard of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he though Dubai was he capital of Saudi Arabia and he through their nationality was Muslim. Where do I start?! I tried to tell him the actual story but it got a bit long winded. The UAE is a bit of a tourist destination these days, and with so many people taking holidays to Dubai I thought the confusion would be over, but clearly not! So let me put things straight:

What is the UAE:

The UAE is an abbreviation of the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a country, consisting of seven smaller ‘emirates’ which are similar to states. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are 2 of those 7 states.

The seven states are:

Abu Dhabi





Ras al Khaimah

Umm al Qaiwain


What is the Capital of the UAE:

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE.


Wait a second, so you’re telling me neither Dubai or Abu Dhabi is a country?!

Exactly, Dubai is not a country and Abu Dhabi is not a country.


So why does Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc have their own flags?

They are the flags of their emirate, all the seven emirate have individual flags BUT they also all fly the same UAE flag (seen below).


UAE flag

UAE flag

How does their Government work?

The UAE has a President (the Emir of Abu Dhabi) and a Prime Minister (the Emir of Dubai). Each Emirate retains autonomy over it’s region.


Where is the UAE:

It’s on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula. It has Saudi Arabia to the West and Oman to the South.  Check out the map below.

Where is the UAE

Where is the UAE

Should I visit the UAE?

If you enjoy experiencing very different cultures, then yes certainly! Bumming on a beach in Thailand can only offer so many aspects, so once you’ve ticked that box it’s time to put yourself to the test. The middle east is back to old school traveling, no tourist buses, no dorms full of college students, you’re really on the road. And the Dubai is a great starting point for that. It’s a lot more liberal (in the western sense) than much of the UAE so it breaks you in nicely.

Dubai is the most famous place to visit and there are certainly enough things  to keep you occupied for a good view days but the UAE is not cheap so don’t stay too long! Budget for around $60 per day, get in, soak it up and move on. It’ll be an experience like no other.

the burj dubai

The Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, in Dubai

I hope that helps clear things up, it can be quite confusing. The UAE really is a great place to visit, and while I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a typical backpacker haunt it’s certainly an intriguing place. Happy travels!

49 thoughts on “Is Dubai A Country? What is the UAE?

  1. mike

    Please I would to be in United Arab Emirates for the rest of my life,how do I get visa, and I also want to know if there is any job opportunities

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  3. Mahbub

    Our company “Wing Tex” are exporter of ready made garments from Bangladesh to EU, we are looking for buyer in Middle east countries / UAE/ Saudi Arab/ Quarter to deliver our quality product with low prices. Contact: mahbub(at)

    1. Pankaj Sharma

      Hi there !
      M from India want to get a job in Dubai,currently working as production manager,a mech engineer having approx 15 + yrs of experience in automobile companies like tata motors,hero Honda, pls reply on

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  5. Nitesh

    How’s the nightlife in Dubai, what are the interesting things to do in Dubai coz nxt month me and my dad went to dubai for few days. Plz rply must

  6. sukdeb

    Here in India every state has a capital. as an example Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra, Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal
    what about UAE ? what is the capital of Dubai ?

  7. olaide

    pls, if somebody having Dubai visa, want to travel from Dubai to Qatar or Oman, does he require any visa again?

    1. Steve

      Depends on what your nationality is. If you are from certain gulf countries no. But if you are from the US you will need a visa but you can get it online (could when I visited 2 years ago).

  8. Anthony

    I want to start up my new home in dubai but I ve no contact or someone who base in dubai, how can I get started

  9. Pyrex

    I just like how strict they are over how women dress. Unlike the western countries where women go half naked and put men in sexual danger, it’s never done that way in UAE.

  10. Milly Hornsby

    Im travelling to Dubai at the end of next month and am a bit worried as it will be Ramadam,do you think this will affect my holiday. Also what is the correct way to dress

    1. Steve

      Ramadan I don’t think will be a problem, I have never been during that time but Dubai caters to tourist and many of the hotels and sites are run just like you would find them in any western tourist destination. You will see many of the tourists in shorts, tank tops and such but it’s best to stay within the guide lines you see on the monitors in many of the malls ..keep your shoulders and knees covered. Here you will find more info: Have fun, I love Dubai, can’t wait to go again.

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    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis.
    It’s always interesting to read articles from other writers and practice something from their websites.

  12. Latashia

    Wow! Thank you for the information! I totally get it not! UAE is a country like the USA. UAE has 7 emirates like the USA has 50 states. The UAE has an Emir and Prime Minister like the USA has a President and Vice President. Abu Dhabi is the UAE’s capitol just as Washington DC is the USA’s capitol. Very well explained! Again, thank you!

    1. Steve

      Saudi Arabia is another country on the Arabian Peninsula. They are on the same peninsula but separate countries. Just like England (UK) Scotland and Wales are on the same island but all are their own separate country.

  13. TARKAA, Moses Kator

    My Mum was in Dubai last month. She said the place has no water and that water is measure in wine glasses but there’re enough juices to be drank.
    Another thing is finding alcohol, that you can’t find it in the open.

    1. Steve

      Your mum is blind or never got off the plane, that is just not true. There is plenty of water, every place I have been has running water (I have been 3 times), it’s clean and has all the modern conveniences of any western city (and more).
      Alcohol is there if you know where to look and if you can’t find it you probably shouldn’t be drinking anyway.

  14. TARKAA, Moses Kator

    My Mum was in Dubai last month. She said the place has no water and that water is measure in wine glasses but there’re enough juices to be drank.
    Another thing is finding alcohol, that you can’t find it in the open.

  15. Steve

    Don’t be fooled by the $2000 a night hotels. I have been to Dubai 2 times (as well as Abu Dhabi) and really loved it. If you get out of the glitz of the modern Dubai and go to old Dubai (Deira) you can find hotels from $60 and up. They have a great Metro for getting around as well as tons of Taxi’s that can take you anywhere.

  16. Felix

    I wanna go this summer, as a layover before going to Ethiopia. Too bad I have a Canadian passport, and Canadian citizens are not welcome to the UAE anymore and need to pay extortionately dumb fees for a visa… until it’s resolved, I’ll pass

      1. Felix

        I think it’s something around 250$ for single entry, and upwards of 1000$ for multiple entry. All that because of some ridiculous dispute between Emirates and Air Canada……

  17. rich

    And the UAE is a great starting point for that. It’s a lot more liberal (in the western sense) than much of the UAE so it breaks you in nicely.

    Do you mean dubai?


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