Have you ever wondered about the names of your neighborhood or community and what they mean? I’m not talking about Arabian Ranches or The Lakes because I would hope everyone can understand what they mean.

I’m talking about the more traditional names, like Al Wasl, or Umm Sequiem for example. They must mean something – words are not just invented unless the Founding Fathers held counsel with a 2-year-old boy who gurgled his way across the Dubai map.

For example, did you know, Al Jaddaf means The Rower, because that is where the old ship building yards used to operate from, or Abu Hail means The Father of Sand Dunes?

However, when it comes to origins or meanings of the names of places in Dubai, one very quickly understands that reality and myth weave together in a tapestry of folklore and fact, poetry and principles, stories and statements.

The little documentation that exists has been blurred by the sands of time and although these place names have roots firmly embedded in the Arabic language, one must refer to stories and myths for further insights.

What we are left with is at best, historical mentions, mostly folklore and poetry, and at worst, utter guesswork.

This work is in no way claiming to be factually correct, and there are going to be incorrect interpretations, but I hope it creates some interest and stimulates some conversation.

Just click on the neighbourhood names on the interactive map below and educate yourselves! You’ll often find there is more than one interpretation. Choose your favourite and impress your friends with an embellished story about it.

Data compiled by various sources, including Arabic scholars, archived newspaper articles and Google.


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