We’re all friends here, so let’s not lie. We’ve all been saying ‘Doo-BYE’. Not just tourists. Every single one of us. Even the OGs. A whopping 85% of residents have been guilty of this botched-up Dubai pronunciation as per a recent survey by Preply, a language learning platform.
They analysed Google search data of 68 cities and created a list of the 20 most mispronounced holiday destinations in the world.
Dubai is one of the top 10 cities in the world whose name is challenging to pronounce. We’ve ranked 10th, just behind cities such as Ibiza, Phuket, Antigua and Versailles. Besides Dubai, Qatar and Iraq are the other Middle East destinations that are mispronounced. That’s a crying shame is what it is…
But let’s not panic. This is a learning opportunity and we’re on a mission to educate you, Dubai residents. Dubai has been declared one of the top cities in the world and a tiny speed bump like mispronunciation should stand in our path to becoming a force to reckon with.
If it’s not Doo-BYE, then HELLO, what is it?
The accurate classic Arabic pronunciation is ‘Doo-Bay’. The anglicised version of the city rhymes with BYE and is pronounced ‘Doo-baii’ or ‘Doo-BYE’.
Uhhh, what’s the difference?
Time to pedal back to kindergarten and brush up on our phonetics.
In the Arabic version, the “bye” sound is replaced with a snappy “bay”: ‘doo-BAY.’ But because our wonderful city is home to over 200 different nationalities, the anglicized version has stuck as the most common pronunciation.
Fun fact: Most Urdu and Hindi speakers pronounce Dubai similar to the Arabic version.
Tell us how to fix it!
Here are the pro tips for you to nail the classic Arabic pronunciation and clock some street cred. Okay, you maybe won’t sound like an Emirati but you’ll come close enough and it’s the effort that counts.
Here’s a step-by-step guide breaking it into 3 simple parts:
1. The ‘d’ sound in Dubai sounds like “the”. Language nerds might recognise this phonetic symbol /ð/. But for the rest of us regular folks, remember that sounds of words “the”, “this” and “there” are your markers.
2. Also, remember to use a short, quick “O” sound for ‘doo’ instead of dragging it out. It’s ‘oo’ as in “book” and not “moon”.
3. The ‘bai’ part of Dubai… Now that’s a tricky one. Because it doesn’t rhyme with “bay” but it’s also not “bye”. It’s somewhere in between. If we had to pick, the closest English word it rhymes with is “buy”.
There you have it. Go repeat ‘Dubai’ out loud a hundred times until practice makes perfect. We have faith in you.
Curious which city ranks #1 on the most mispronounced places list? See the entire list here.