The Middle East is one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world. Especially Dubai (since the 1980s) and Abu Dhabi (since the 1990s) have invested heavily in tourism development to firstly enhance their recognition as international destinations and secondly to diversify their economies away from the oil production. Surprisingly, there is a lack of academic published articles on those two emirates’ international destination image. This paper attempts to fill this gap by studying and comparing the images of Abu Dhabi and Dubai amongst potential first-time visitors from one of their main source markets – Germany. An empirical study amongst 300 respondents from North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany, was conducted to reveal the cognitive image attributes of Dubai and Abu Dhabi for non-visitors. Despite both places having a similar basis for destination development, their images differ. Thus, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are not seen as competitors on the tourism market, instead they could even increase the mutual benefits through highlighting specific images more distinctly. Further, the research identified a missing fit between the desired tourism destination image for both destinations and the perceived destination image. This is especially significant for the aspect of sustainability, which both emirates try to promote. Potential tourists rather perceive both emirates as unsustainable and not environmentally conscious.