Dubai Lingo – Deciphering Common Words and Expressions Used in Dubai


Hello Habibi! Let’s help you in your journey through Dubai.

Even though English is commonly used in Dubai as the main language of communication, we bet there are still plenty of expressions and names you’re unfamiliar with!

To help you de-code Dubai jargon, we’re here to help with this glossary of terms to use in Dubai. Some are Arabic words, others are derived from Arabic but used in everyday English, and some are company names, brand names or acronyms that pop up everywhere you go in Dubai!

If we haven’t got the answer you’re after here, leave us a note in the comments, and we’ll get our interpreters onto it! (We have team members who also speak Urdu, Farsi & Tagalog, so we’ll help the best we can!!)

Dubai Glossary of Terms & Lingo – A to Z

You will hear these words come up time and again when planning your Dubai trip or while you are here, so here’s a handy guide on how to understand these terms and place names.

Abu Dhabi – {city and Emirate} to the west of Dubai; this is the country’s capital city and largest Emirate with most of the country’s oil reserves

AED – the currency of the country

Ain Dubai – the name given to the giant observation wheel on Bluewaters Island (that presently remains ‘closed for enhancements’)

Ajman –  {city & emirate} the smallest in the UAE, sitting north-east of Dubai on the Persian Gulf.

Al Ain – {city} second largest city in Abu Dhabi Emirati, sitting on the Oman border, also called the Oasis City.

Arabian Gulf – The official name is the Persian Gulf, but maps locally frequently relabel this to the Arabian Gulf.

Bluewaters – a man-made island sitting adjacent to JBR and the Palm Jumeirah.

Burkini – a modest swimsuit worn by Muslim ladie.s

Careem – the major private rideshare service that operates in Dubai.

Dibba – an area of the UAE situated on the east coast, it falls within the UAE and Oman.

Dirham or Dizzers – the currency of the UAE.

DPR – initials for Dubai Parks & Resorts, home to Legoland and Motiongate theme parks in Jebel Ali.

DXB – the airport code for Dubai International Airport, most commonly used as a reference to the city too.

Etihad – the national airline of the UAE operating from Abu Dhabi airport, Etihad Airways.

Emaar – a major stock-market-listed Dubai property developer; you will see their signage everywhere!

Fujairah – {City and Emirate} Sitting on the east coast of the UAE, facing the Gulf of Oman.

GCC – Gulf Cooperation Countries. Neighbouring Gulf region countries, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain & Kuwait, with whom the UAE is in cooperation with at a political and economic level.

Habibi – {Arabic} a term of endearment (female Habibti). Literally ‘my love/beloved’ but can be used as a term of endearment among friends and colleagues.

Hala – taxi company

Hatta – an area of Dubai to the south of the city on the Oman border, popular for outdoor recreation.

Inshallah – {Arabic} God Willing. Very frequently tagged onto the end of a sentence, meaning “I’ll do my best’ (or an excuse why something may not be done!)

Ishy Bilady – the UAE’s national athem.

JBR – Jumeirah Beach Residences is a popular beachfront residential and hotel area.

JLT – Jumeirah Lake Towers is a business and residential area of the city.

JVC – Jumeirah Village Circle is another suburban area of the city.

Khalas – {Arabic} stop or finish, can be used to indicate you are done eating or, more forcefully, telling someone to leave you alone.

Khorfakkan – part of the Sharjah emirate sitting in an exclave on the east coast within the Fujairah emirate.

Maktoums – the ruling family of Dubai Emirate.

Marhaba – {Arabic} Hello

Musandam – the Omani enclave that sits to the very most northern tip of the Arabian Peninsular.

nol – in Arabic literally means fare; it’s the ticket you need to use public transport.

Ramadan – the 9th month in the Islamic calendar, a special time for Muslims around the world, also called the Holy Month.

RTA –  Acronym for Road Traffic Authority, responsible for all roads and public transportation in Dubai.

Ras al Khaimah – {city and Emirate} to the northeast of Dubai, known for the Hajar Mountains and extreme outdoor adventure activities.

Salam – {Arbaic} means ‘peace’ but is frequently used as a salutation.

Salik – the road toll system for Dubai’s major roads.

Sharjah – {city & Emirate} the adjacent emirate to the northeast of Dubai.

Shukran – {Arabic} Thank you.

Suhoor – Breakfast (or more commonly in Dubai a middle-of-the-night meal) taken before sunrise during Ramadan ti fuel up before the day’s fasting

The PalmPalm Jumeirah, a man-made island (there are two Palms, but the second in Jebel Ali is still uninhabited).

Wallah – {Arabic} I swear by/to god.

Yalla – {Arabic} let’s go! Words of encouragement and excitement (and sometimes frustration at someone’s slow pace doing something), often yalla, yalla!

Yas Island – a partially man-made island in Abu Dhabi Emirate, home to many popular attractions such as theme parks and a Grand Prix Track.

Important Information for Dubai

  • Currency: The Dirham, AED fixed to USD 3.67
  • Plugs: British Three Pin Type G
  • Ruler of Dubai: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
  • Ruler of the UAE: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed al Nayhan
  • Religion: Sunni Muslim majority

You’ll get more fast facts and United Arab Emirates geography lessons in our guide “Where is Dubai?


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

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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.

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