The United Arab Emirates has a rich culture and heritage that dates back to the beginning of time. The country is a constitutional federation of seven emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras-Al-Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al-Qaiwain, and Fujairah. Abu Dhabi is the capital city.
The Emirates are home to various terrains (desert, oasis, mountains and coastal line). Many of the country’s long-standing traditions are influenced by the environment surrounding it.
Individual Emiratis were resilience and resourceful to have survived in these diverse weather conditions.
Old Meets New in the United Arab Emirates
The common denominator of religion (Islam) and language (Arabic), played an important role in keeping the Emirati culture and heritage as well as upholding the UAE’s age-old tribal structure.
The largest tribe in UAE is Bani Yas, who call the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and part of Dubai Emirate home. They are a nomadic group that survive on oasis farming and are accustomed to travelling long distances in a single day.
The Bani Yas tribes are proficient in acquiring water from the mountaintops. They build a peculiar traditional irrigation system that brings water through narrow wadis (valleys) from the mountains into the settlement area for daily use.
The UAE’s vast coastline offers a resource that revolves around a trading and exporting sea culture. Traditionally, fishing has been the chief food source for the people in this arid climate.
Modern Culture and Heritage
The lifestyle in today’s UAE bears little resemblance to life from a decade or centuries ago. The transformation of the country was fast-forwarded by the discovery and commercial exportation of oil in the early 1960s.
The UAE urbanization has been defined by unparalleled growth, as Dubai is one of the most modern cities in the world today.
Some of the highlighted urban features include skyscrapers, many shopping malls and a network of highways that connect the Emirates smoothly.
Government’s Role in Preserving Culture and Heritage
The Supreme Council is the highest ruling organ in the UAE. The Council members made up of rulers of each Emirate of the Federation are consistently making effort to preserve and promote the country’s great culture and heritage by educating the world through exhibits and festivals.
The United Arab Emirates spares no expense in showcasing its culture and heritage to visitors and the rest of the world.
Here are a couple reminders for first-time guests to the United Arab Emirates:
• Salam Alaykoom as an Islamic greeting meaning Hello and Wa alaykoom salam is the universal response.
• Before entering a person’s home, you should take off your shoes.
• Men usually don’t shake hands with women in the public.
• It is acceptable to begin a conversation by asking a person the current state of their health and family.
• It is normal to serve refreshments before discussing business matters with an individual.
• Respect and courtesy are always shown to elders in the community as youngsters are expected to listen and learn from them.
The UAE culture is rich in culture and heritage. Hopefully, linking their glorious past with the progressive future will inspire younger generations to maintain their ancestral values, while making efforts to advance the country’s current development.