It is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's Federal Supreme Council.
The area was covered with sand about 5,000 years ago as the coast retreated inland, becoming part of the city's present coastline.
Excavations by the Dubai Museum in the region of Al-Jumayra (Jumeirah) found several artefacts from the Umayyad period.
In 1833, following tribal feuding, members of the Al Bu Falasa tribe seceded from Abu Dhabi and established themselves in Dubai.
By the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port.
Dubai was known for its pearl exports until the 1930s; the pearl trade was damaged irreparably by the Great Depression in the 1930s and the innovation of cultured pearls.
The exodus from Abu Dhabi was led by Ubaid bin Saeed and Maktum bin Butti who became joint leaders of Dubai until Ubaid died in 1836, leaving Maktum to establish the Maktoum dynasty.