Background and History
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a Constitutional Federation of seven Emirates; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. Located in southeast of the Arabian Peninsula, the UAE borders Oman and Saudi Arabia. On the 2nd of December 1971, the UAE became a federation of six Emirates excluding Ras Al Khaimah, which joined the federation two months later.
Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven Emirates, is the Capital of the UAE, while Dubai is the second largest Emirate. The current ruler of the country is His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the son of the late founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Dubai is considered to be one of the fastest growing cities in the world. With a great vision of its leaders, Dubai always strives for the number One. In Dubai, you will find the world’s tallest man-made structure, the only seven star hotel, the biggest shopping mall, Palm shaped man-made islands, the biggest aquarium, the tallest hotel and many more. The beauty of Dubai also lies behind the fact that it is one the world’s most cosmopolitan cities with over 200 nationalities living harmoniously in it.
The Culture of the UAE
The locals of the UAE, also known as Emiratis, are Arabs and Muslims. The society of the UAE is very family-oriented. As the Emiratis are considered to be the minority in their country, their duty of protecting their culture and heritage becomes crucial. The culture of the UAE is well-embedded in the local families.
THERE IS A LOT TO KNOW ABOUT THE UAE
The majority of the locals wear their national attire. Men wear a long white cloak called Kandoura, and place a headscarf, Ghutra, over their heads.
Women cover themselves with a long flowing black gown known as a Abaya, and cover their heads with a piece of material called a Sheila. Nowadays, the Abayas are not limited to being black in color, and women tend to wear fashionable attires under their colorful Abayas.
Decency is considered crucial to the culture of the UAE. Whether a local, resident or a visitor, it is encouraged to respect the culture by wearing decent attires in public.
Hospitality and Greetings
Hospitality and generosity form a vital aspect of the Arab society. There are some basic procedures and etiquettes which remain very important when greeting family, friends or even business contacts. Males and females do not shake hands when they greet. It is helpful to remember not to offer to shake a hand with a female unless she offers first.
One example of hospitality is serving the Arabic coffee, Ghahwa, which is served on every occasion as a sign of welcome and hospitality. The way of serving the Ghahwa and the manners of accepting and drinking it is very crucial. It is important to be aware of the serving and drinking etiquettes to avoid offending the culture.
Meals were traditionally eaten whilst sitting on the floor and using the hands. Nowadays, some families still follow this habit, while others sit around a dining table and use proper cutlery. Families have their meals together and especially on Fridays, where extended families gather over lunch. All food eaten by Muslims is Halal, and is preferably eaten using the right hand. The Emirati food is a mix of flavors inspired by the trade over the years. Today, the best international cuisines are found in the UAE.