The name of a city usually derives from its geography or history. Regarding the cities of UAE, it is difficult to trace their origins because their history was traditionally passed down by word of mouth through folklore and poetry. In fact, not much was written down and much has been obscured by time.
There are only few written records of the cultural history of the UAE. The National Atlas of the UAE, brought out by the UAE University, was first published in English and lost a lot of words and names, many of them became distorted, when it was translated into Arabic.
Most of the names of places in the UAE have roots in the Arabic language, including Dubai.
There are some researchers which destroy the myth that the origin of the word Dubai is not Arabic for the reason that Arabs have always named areas that they have inhabited. Somebody contend the name of Dubai has Persian root although Dubai is a city that has been known for its Arab population ever since it was established.
Dubai, is a diminution of the word Daba meaning baby locusts. An Arabic proverbs says “they came with Daba Dubai” meaning they came with a swarm of locusts from this area.
Some researchers say that the mention of the name “Dubai” can be found in many stories. One old story is about a woman who was called Dubaa and who lived in the area, another story refers to an insect that used to crawl.
The word Dubai may have come also from the word daba (Arabic: دبا) a past tense derivative of yadub (Arabic: يدب), which means “to creep”, referring to the slow flow of Dubai Creek inland. The term is likened to the way a snake creeps into the sand.
Other researchers believe that the name’s origins can be attributed to the term Dubbor (bee), which are also called Dibi (bees).
In the 1820s, Dubai was referred to as “Al Wasl” in books by British historians. That geographical record included the present day areas of Jumeirah, Shindagha, Deira and Bur Dubai.
The area across the creek is known as Deira. Deira does not mean a house or Deyar of Bani Abis, but it means al estedarah, or roundness, a term describing the rounded shape of the creek when it joins land.
Dubai as a name was mentioned in the sixth century in books as a name of a location. Very little evidence can be found about the origins of Dubai except for references in stories narrated by the elderly of Dubai. Many other theories have been proposed as to the origin of the word “Dubai”.
One theory suggests the word was used to describe the souq, which was similar to the souq in Ba.
Another theory states that the name came from a word meaning “money”, as people from Dubai were commonly believed to be rich due to the thriving trading centre of the location. An Arabic proverb says “Daba Dubai” (Arabic: دبا دبي), meaning “They came with a lot of money
An inhabitant or native of the city is a Dubaian.