For years, the North African Republic of Wadiya has been ruled by Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen), a childish, lecherous, misogynous, anti-western and antisemitic despot who surrounds himself with female bodyguards, refuses to allow Wadiyan oil to be sold internationally and is working on developing nuclear weapons. After the United Nations Security Council resolves to intervene militarily, Aladeen travels to the UN Headquarters in New York City to address the council. Shortly after arriving, he is kidnapped by Clayton (John C. Reilly), a hitman hired by his treacherous uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley). Tamir then replaces Aladeen with a mentally-challenged political decoy named Efawadh, whom he intends to manipulate into signing a document democratizing Wadiya and opening the country's oil fields for business. Aladeen escapes after Clayton accidentally burns himself to death, but his huge beard has been shaved off by Clayton, making him practically unrecognizable. He encounters activist Zoey (Anna Faris), who offers him a job at her alternative lifestyle co-op. Aladeen refuses the offer and travels to New York's "Little Wadiya", located near the Marcy Avenue station, which is populated by refugees from his country. There, he encounters "Nuclear" Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas), the former chief of Wadiya's nuclear weapons program and head procurer of women, whom Aladeen thought he had previously executed. Nadal explains that Wadiyan rebels infiltrated his intelligence unit, sending into exile all the people he had ordered to be executed.Wanting his old job back, Nadal promises to help Aladeen thwart Tamir's plot and regain his position as 'rightful' dictator, on condition that Aladeen makes him head of Wadiya's W.M.D. program again. Aladeen agrees and accepts Zoey's job offer, as she is catering at the hotel where the signing is to occur. Aladeen falls in love with Zoey after she refuses his sexual advances and teaches him how to masturbate. Turning around Zoey's struggling business, Aladeen begins imposing strict schedules on everyone, forming a personality cult around Zoey and intimidating an inspector into giving the store a good review. However, Aladeen's relationship with Zoey becomes strained after he reveals his true self. After acquiring a new beard taken from a corpse, Aladeen infiltrates the hotel and incapacitates Efawadh. At the signing ceremony, he tears up Tamir's document in front of the UN delegation, and holds an impassioned speech praising the virtues of dictatorship, drawing unintended parallels to current issues within the United States. However, upon seeing Zoey in the room, he declares his love for her and, knowing Zoey's strongly-held views, vows to democratize his country and open up Wadiya's oil fields for business, but in a way where the general populace will benefit. Angry with Aladeen staying in power, Tamir attempts to assassinate him but Efawadh jumps in front of the bullet.A year later, Wadiya holds its first democratic elections, although they are rigged in favor of Aladeen. Afterwards, he marries Zoey, but is shocked when she crushes a glass and reveals herself to be Jewish. Scenes during the credits show Aladeen's convoy, now consisting of eco-friendly cars, visiting a reinstated Nadal, and later Zoey revealing in a television interview that she is pregnant with the couple's first child. Aladeen responds to the news by asking if Zoey is having "a boy or an abortion".