The stratigraphy offshore Dubai is dominated by carbonate sequences from the Permian to recent with about 1000+ feet of Carboniferous and older clastic sequences drilled below that to date.
The main producing formations offshore are the limestones of the Asmari (gas), Ilam, Mishrif, Mauddud and Thamama (oil) of Cretaceous age along with discovered gas in the Khuff dolomites and Pre-Khuff sandstones of Permian to Devonian age. The oil is trapped in giant dome shaped salt cored anticlinal structures. The Shiliaf Formation currently being exploited as an unconventional play is the most prolific source rock for most of the oil in the Upper Cretaceous reservoirs. The deepest well offshore Dubai reached just over 19,200 feet
The stratigraphy onshore Dubai is dominated by carbonate sequences deposited in a stack of four sedimentary basins more that formed in response to overthrusting of the Oman Mountains. The basin stack is covered by late Miocene clastics and floored by middle and early Cretaceous shelf carbonates and clastics. The eastern part of the Dubai acreage marks the western limit of the late cretaceous to Tertiary thrust belt forming the Oman Mountains. The thrust belt is characterized by steep dips and complex folding and faulting. Gas and condensate have been trapped in thrust anticline structures in Margham and Khubai. The deepest well onshore Dubai reached over 16,000 feet.
Exploration in the Emirate of Dubai is conducted to optimise the available reserves.