Objectives This study aims to explore physicians' views of pharmacists' roles in providing primary care services through community pharmacies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Methods A qualitative approach involving semi-structured interviews conducted one-to-one or in group discussions was employed. The interviews explored participants' views of pharmacists' primary care services including screening and monitoring of disease, health advice, referral, lifestyle and preventive care, supply of printed information, counselling on medications, patient record keeping, and pharmacist intervention in chronic disease management. Data were analysed using the Framework approach. Key findings Fifty-three physicians participated; 27 were interviewed individually and 26 participated in five group discussions. Four major themes were identified: competence, business orientation, territorial control and service delivery. Participants were supportive of verbal counselling about medications, checking for drug dosing, interactions, duplications and errors, and keeping patient medication profiles. Physicians generally did not favour pharmacists' involvement in screening or monitoring of disease, providing information about diseases, diagnosis or long-term management of disease, or intervention directly with patients, mainly due to perceived lack of competence, territorial encroachment and business orientation of community pharmacy. Conclusions Despite some reservations, participants showed support for pharmacist involvement in providing primary care services, provided certain quality and territorial issues were addressed. Understanding physicians' attitudes will facilitate interventions to enhance the contribution of community pharmacists to primary care in the UAE, and possibly in other regions with similar healthcare systems. © 2014 Royal Pharmaceutical Society.