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What the names of UAE cities mean

Abu Dhabi 

Literally it means “father of a gazelle”. According to a legend, in the middle of the 18th century one hunter wounded a gazelle (“dubi” in local dialect). Escaping, he crossed the strait, called Maliha (salty) and having lost the way, died from thirst. Near this place a spring was found, named Abu-Dhabi that exist till now 2 km to the south Cornish embankment.

Afterwards people found other springs and settled nearby. The first mention of Abu Dhabi dates to 1761.

The other version of the origin of Abu-Dhabi comes from the other meaning of the word. “Abu” – is also “rich in something", not only “father”. You can translate “Abu dollar” by yourself.

Local people noticed that during low tide gazelles went from the island to the water-place. So Abu-Dhabi means “the place, rich in gazelles”.

Situated next to Abu-Dhabi Island was named Um-Narr (‘fiery”).


The name of this emirate and its capital came from the word “locust” (in Arabian “dibba” and diminutive - “ dubai"). It may be connected with the fact, that it was the place of locusts breeding, that like wet soil. According to the name of the district “Bur Dubai” (“locust well”) there was a well here long time ago.

Dibbas, one more emirate city has also originated from “locust”. The other district of Dubai means just “settlement”.


Originates from the word “shark”, which in local Arabian dialect is pronounced as “shardj”.


The name of the smallest emirate probably came from the strong tribal confederation Adjman with more than 5000 warriors. Another version-from the word “adjm”, that is “non-Arabian”, foreigner, Persian. So it means “non-Arabian, evil place”.


In local dialect it means “the place of two cavities”, that reflects the relief of the place.


“Tent cape”. They say that the leader of the local tribe set his cape there and queen of Sheba stayed there during her trip to Solomon.


It originates from the name of the big mountain spring, till now supplying some villages with water. It means “to spring”.

  • Abu Dhabi city and emirate
  • Dubai city and emirate
  • Ajman city and emirate
  • Sharjah city and emirate
  • Fujairah city and emirate
  • Ras Al Khaimah city and emirate
  • Umm Al Quwain city and emirate
  • Al Ain city, Emirates

  • under construction