|An inspiring blend of sophisticated luxury, authentic Indian heritage and contemporary style – Taj Dubai is a world-class destination. Experience great Indian hospitality at the shores of modern Arabia.|
When travelling it’s good to learn a bit about the culture before you go so you have some idea how to fit in (rather than look like a really obvious tourist). In a culture that is very different in many ways to the Western culture of Australia (or the USA or Europe), such as the United Arab Emirates, understanding more about what is polite or rude in their society, and the reasons for their customs and behaviours can help you feel more at home and also ensure that you don’t make easily avoidable gaffes.
A great place in Dubai to gain an understanding of Emirati culture and traditions is the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, whose slogan is “open doors, open minds”, it strives to remove barriers between people of different nationalities and raise awareness of the local culture, customs and religion of the United Arab Emirates
You are invited into the centre, located in a traditional wind tower house in the Al Bastakiya trading village in the Al Fahidi Historic District, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Bur Dubai for breakfast or lunch. You are treated with generous Emirati hospitality and given the opportunity to ask questions about their culture, religion and dress with a hope that your mind will be open to understanding how these Arabic Muslim’s live.
I’ve been to the SMCCU twice now and been on the receiving end of delicious national cuisine, the kind the locals eat at home rather than in a restaurant and had the opportunity to learn more about the local people, their lives and religion.
Upon arrival you are asked to remove your shoes then sit on a cushion, served Arabic coffee and dates (as is the local custom) as it stimulates the appetite and digestive system. A delicious meal is served buffet style and then you are treated to a conversational talk with one of the volunteers who present their view of the Emirati culture. As is the custom, meals are always served and cleaned up by the youngest male in the household. The women are expected to stay at the table and entertain their guests not spend their time in the kitchen preparing or cleaning up.
You are then greeted by your host. The first time we were hosted by Sheikh Nasif who explained to us all about the Sheikh system as well as answering our questions about why the Emirati women wear the Abaya (very lightweight black long robe) and niqab face covering (it’s early sun-protection from that hot Arabic sun plus no need to worry about putting on your makeup before you leave the house!). On my second visit we were hosted by a young University student who shared her experiences living as an Arabic woman and told us that when she travels to Europe she doesn’t wear the Abaya, just regular, modest, Western clothes (such as jeans) as it makes her blend in and prevents her from being stared at. She also told us how the Arabic men keep their dish-dash (white long robe) so clean, the secret is that they change it twice a day.
The hosts are very open to questions and you are invited to ask anything you like about their culture, dress and religion. The experience is both entertaining and filling (after a huge breakfast I really only needed a tiny lunch many hours later.
If you’re planning a visit to Dubai you can book a breakfast or lunch easily online at the SMCCU website.
This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.
An inspiring blend of sophisticated luxury, authentic Indian heritage and contemporary style – Taj Dubai is a world-class destination. Experience great Indian hospitality at the shores of modern Arabia.