United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an Arab country that is a state member of the league of Arab states and a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Islam is the basis of UAE’s culture, political, and general systems. However, residents in UAE are free to follow any religion as the country widely celebrates festive occasions like Eid, Diwali, and Christmas. That broadly defines the culture of UAE which is vast, dynamic and respectful.
Art, hospitality, poetry, sports, and clothing are some of the important aspects of culture in UAE. Over 200 nationalities reside in the country with most of them living and working in Dubai. If that’s not a dynamic culture, and what really is? Culture in Dubai is similar to that in other emirates of the country but it is considered a bit more tolerant offering liberal space for expatriates.
The diverse culture of UAE is reflected in various lifestyle elements including its cuisine and customs.
Greeting in Emirates is a bit different than other parts of the world. Men generally touch each other’s nose in what is called as ‘Khusmak’, the Emirati kiss. A handshake or a hug is also used as a way to greet people of the same gender. However, due to religious adherence, a handshake or hug between opposite gender is not welcomed and appreciated. According to Dubai culture, People generally place their hand on the heart and do a brief nod as an alternative greeting.
Seeking permission is a distinct yet important part of UAE culture. People are also expected to show respect to everyone and everything. Criticizing any religion is considered as an offence. Showing public display of affection, inappropriate gestures, clicking pictures of women without their expressed consent or complementing them is also considered as an offence. UAE and Dubai, in particular, is a very tolerant place but any disrespect towards anyone is punishable by law.
People in the Emirates practice some traditions that are unique and distinct to their country. To refuse coffee served in ‘Dallah’, the Arabic coffee pot is deemed rude and disrespectful. The coffee is considered as a symbol of hospitality and one should not refuse any welcome sign in the region.
Falconry in UAE is another popular cultural heritage of the nation. Dating back to hundreds of years, the sport is widely popular in the Emirates. While visiting deserts in UAE, one can always spot a falcon or your tour guide could help you find one.
Marriage is another important traditional affair in the country. Generally, marriages are arranged by parents and marriage outside the kinship is frowned upon in UAE. Arab weddings are a close-knit event involving only families of the bride and groom.
Architecture in UAE is heavily influenced by Arabian and Islamic designs. Buildings in UAE reflect customs, lifestyle, and rich culture of the country. A diverse range of materials is used in local architecture to suit climatic conditions and generate natural ventilation.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have some of the world’s greatest buildings with marvellous architecture. These buildings not only boast the rich heritage of UAE but also lays emphasis on the modern art philosophy that Emiratis adore and appreciate.
Some of the great architectural marvels you can spot in UAE are:
Equal respect is given to all religious practices across UAE. Majority of population in the country practice Islam but people from other faiths also live a comfortable life in the nation. A number of residents practice Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Judaism among other religions. Values and spreading goodwill are an integral part of Dubai religion and culture.
UAE houses some of the most beautiful mosques in the world. Working hours in the country are reduced during the Holy month of Ramadan so that Muslims follow the month with less stressful work and traveling schedule.The official weekend in the country is Friday and Saturday opposite to global weekend days of Saturday and Sunday.
Another important information about UAE culture is in its dressing forms. The dressing style is inspired by Islamic texts. Men and women wear alike clothes that show modesty and conservativeness of the society. ‘Abaya’ is the traditional dress of women in UAE. It is paired up with ‘Niqaab’ and ‘Gafaaz’ to cover hands and face. To prevent exposure of skin in public, women wear ‘Burqa’ that cover their whole body and face.
Men usually wear a white coloured loose-fitting robe that is known as ‘Kandura’. It is generally paired up with ‘Ghutrah’, a headscarf. The length of Kandura often determines the status of the person, longer the robe, more wealthy the person is.
With its incredible cultural heritage and modern architectural marvels, UAE does not miss a chance to impress anyone. Dubai, the hub of tourists is the upbeat place for tourism and sightseeing. All people need to keep in mind is that they respect Dubai culture and traditions while visiting the city. Respect all and have a good trip to the Emirates!