Where Is Dubai? Hint, It’s Not In India

Dubai is located in the United Arab Emirates, it is not in India as some believe. Dubai is just north of Abu Dhabi and sits on the Persian Gulf.

There are some places that although important economically or politically is so small and remote that most people could not place them on a map. But which one of those places is Dubai? Some people mistakenly assume that is in India, but, as we will see, this could not be farther from the truth.


“In Dubai, we don’t wait for things to happen — we make them happen.” — H. H Shk. Mohammed Al Maktoum

Dubai is, in fact, one of the emirates federated into the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Arab Peninsula on the Persian Gulf. It is, perhaps, the best-known emirate. The other emirates that make up the UAE are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. The capital of the UAE is Abu Dhabi. Although Abu Dhabi is the capital, Dubai is the largest city with a total population (as of November 2017) of 2,884,837.

Dubai borders with Abu Dhabi to the south, Oman to the southeast, and Sharjah to the northeast. The metropolis is located between the gulf and the Arabic desert. Because of its location, Dubai’s climate is classed as a hot desert. Its average high is 106 °F (41 °C).

DubaiInteresting Facts
CountryUnited Arab Emirates
Founded byUbaid bin Saeed and Maktoum bin Butti Al Maktoum
GDP$108 billion
Government typeAbsolute monarchy
Indian Proportion43.3% Indian
Official languageArabic
Official religionIslam
Per capita GDP$28,396
Size4,114 km2

Is Dubai In Asia?

The answer is yes. Although many people prefer the term the Middle East or, even, Near East, geographically Dubai (and the United Arab Emirates) are part of Western Asia.


Western Asia, which is also known as Southwest Asia, Southwestern Asia, or West Asia, does not exactly overlap with what we refer to as the Middle East. Most notably, Egypt, one of the largest countries in the Middle East, has most of its territory on North Africa and just occupies the area known as the Sinai Peninsula of Western Asia.

The way geographers use the concept of Western Asia (and other related terms), this part of Asia includes the following contemporary countries:

In Anatolia:

  • Turkey

In the Arabian Peninsula:

  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • The United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen

In the South Caucus:

  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Georgia

In the Fertile Crescent:

  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Palestine
  • Syria

In the Iranian Plateau:

  • Iran

In the Mediterranean Sea:

  • Cyprus

In the Sinai Peninsula:

  • Egypt

Why Do Some People Think That Dubai Is In India? 

Although Dubai is in the Arab Peninsula, in demographic terms, Emirati Arabs are a minority of the total population.

Most of the people who live in Dubai are from the Indian Subcontinent. It is estimated that 69.3 % of people living in Dubai are from the subcontinent. This is then broken down into 43.3% Indian, 17% Pakistani, 7.5% Bangladeshi, 1.5% Sri Lankan.

The Emirati only make up 23% of the population, and the rest are from different nationalities (mostly for the rest of Asia). It is probably the ethnic make-up of this emirate that makes some people think that Dubai is in India when, in fact, it is in the United Arab Emirates.

However, ethically, Dubai is not that different from the United Arab Emirates as a whole. Actually, the overall percentage of Emirate is even lower at only 11.32%. While, people from the Indian subcontinent make up 50.12% of the total population, out of which 27.15% are Indian, 12.53% are Pakistani, 7.31% are Bangladeshi, and 3.13% are Sri Lankan. Up to 38.56% of the total population of the UAE is from other nationalities (chiefly, Americans and Europeans).

Why Is Dubai So Important?

It is undeniable that even people who could not place Dubai (or the UAE) on a map have heard of it and recognize it as a powerful place.

Famous landmarks of Dubai
  • The rise in Dubai’s international profile, however, is still relatively new.
  • Dubai’s existence as a city has been documented going back to the late 11th century AD. In 1095, the Arab geographer Abu Abdullah al-Bakri wrote about it in his Book of Geography.
  • But it is known that the pace was inhabited as far back as 7,000 BC.
  • The area where Dubai sits was Islamized during the first phase of the Islamic conquests, covering the Arab Peninsula and parts of Africa (Somalia) under the early Caliphs and the Umayyads between 610 and 750 CE.
  • During the Middle Ages, the city was known as a trading post. By the 18th century, Dubai was a fishing village ruled by Abu Dhabi.
  • The area became a British protectorate in 1892. The purpose of this was to protect Dubai from a potential invasion by the powerful Ottoman Empire.
  • Dubai’s importance as a trading post continued to rise because of its proximity to Iran, which is just directly across the Gulf from Dubai. Until the Great Depression, Dubai was known (at least, regionally) as an important post for the pearl trade. But when the pearling industry fell in the 1930s, Dubai became impoverished and many of its inhabitants were forced to migrate to other parts of the Peninsula and even farther to other areas in the Gulf.
  • Dubai has historically had a fraught relationship with neighboring Abu Dhabi in which Britain has often acted as an arbiter.
  • Finally, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the emirates of Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain, Ajman, Quwain federated by signing the Act of Union (December 2, 1971) that resulted in the formation of the United Arab Emirates. A couple of months later, on February 10, 1972, the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah joined the federation.

The cool parts – the parts that have won Dubai its reputation as ‘the Vegas of the Middle East’ or ‘the Veneice of the Middle East’ or ‘the Disney World of the Middle East, if Disney World were the size of San Francisco and out in a deser’ – have been built in the last ten years.

Thanks to the discovery of oil in the late sixties, the city of Dubai prospered and by the early 1970s, it had become an important center for oil companies. It was also then when Dubai grew thanks to the massive influx of migrants from the rest of the Middle East but mostly Asia, which continues to this day.

Modern Dubai, with its ethnic diversity and economic power, is the result of the development that was kick-started in the 1970s following the discovery of oil. Although its rise was temporarily halted in 1990 due to the Gulf War, Dubai eventually recovered and continued to grow not only thanks to oil and trade but, more recently, but also because of tourism increasingly.

Comments (7)

  1. Juan,

    Thanks for all this great information. I must admit, I also thought Dubai was in India. I am just now getting very interested in world travel and understanding the traditions and customs of the countries I visit. I am happy to be learning more and more about Dubai. I plan to visit Feb of 2020.


  2. Only an American could possibly think Dubai is in India… because American thinks the sun revolves around the US… and so they don’t teach geography as a a subject in US schools.

    1. I actually did lol, watching the New Years thing on Youtube and I was like “Oh Dubia India is beautiful! Found this page and learned otherwise lol”



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