The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding was honored to host local leaders from the Chinese business community for an interactive and bridge building dialogue at the centre. Organized by Lucy Chuang of the Global Sino Consultancy and sponsored by Shihab Mohammad Shihab Gargash, director of Commercial Bank of Dubai and Gargash Enterprises, Emiratis and the Chinese Business community gathered to talk culture, business, and collaboration in the UAE. Various traditional Emirati practices and terms were discussed beginning with how Bedouin hosts would accommodate a guest with traditional Gahaweh Arabia, how to conduct a meeting and socialise and the meanings of some common arabic terms like wasta and Inshallah, and how to build long-term professional relationships. On that issue, both Acting General Manager of Petrochina International Middle East and Captain Song Wang, chairman of the Chinese Business Council, Wu Qiunan commented in regards to commonalities among the cultures, “When Chinese do business, it’s important for us that we build trust with our partners first, and we honour our word to them.” Qiang LI – Deputy General Manager, Agricultural Bank of China and Yu Tao – President/CEO, China State Construction Corporation were also in attendance at the event. Lucy Chuang of the Global Sino Consultancy organizer of the event chose the back drop of the SMCCU as a perfect atmosphere to showcase authentic Emirati hospitality.
The SMCCU has received 21 Universities from all over the globe in the first third of 2013 and has become a must visit and first stop for many educational institutions coming to Dubai. Students attend our programmes to get a firsthand look at the traditions and culture of the people of the UAE through our well established programmes which include Cultural Meals, Masjid Visits, and Heritage Tours of the Al Fahidi Historic District. The area, which houses the centre is unique and represents the humble beginnings of this nation in an interesting juxtaposition of old and new, with its historic landmarks and more modern galleries. The centre’s focus is to give visiting universities the opportunity to explore Dubai throughout its diverse history, and leave with an understanding of how the people’s resourcefulness and adaptability to their harsh living environment is unmistakably who the Emirati is and remains to be today. They value their rich past, and this enables them to retain and embrace their history and traditions, while using their experiences and skills to help catapult their small communities into a now burgeoning metropolis. Topics range from Arab history, Arabic culture, basic precepts of the Islamic faith and how they effect the economic, social, political, and religious standards and foundation of this region. The sessions as always start with the motto, “ Open Doors. Open Minds.” and students are free to ask any question on their mind with our promise to answer in a frank, open and honest way. . The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, and therefore students leave with a sense of having a truly authentic and enlightening experience.
From North American visitors included Boston University, California State University, Kogod School of Business, University of Maryland, Kenan Flagler (UNC), Duke University,West Virginia University, Robert H Smith School of Business, Harvard College, and Pacific Lutheran University. From Europe and Asia visitors included, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Utrecht University School of Law, The University of Utrecht School of Economics, Hogeschool Rotterdam, NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, Universite Nice Sophia Antipolis, Vrije Universiteit and University of Groningen, Leiden Law School, Bocconi University, Heinrich-Heine University.
The SMCCU as it continues to expand its programmes and offerings, recently held 11 separate events in one day, the beginning of another milestone for the centre, now in its 15th year. The day began with 106 students from Gems World Academy, who were hosted in two groups at the Heritage House in historic old Dubai. Their programme included an authentic Emirati Breakfast followed by a Cultural Walk and visit inside the Diwan Mosque. At the same time, the centre’s traditional wind tower house was occupied by Undertakers Incentives for a cultural lunch followed by a walk round the historic district. Another group of volunteers hosted our public guests throughout the day who attended various activities including historic walks around the Al Fahidi District and a cultural lunch and dinner event. In the afternoon we received guests from the Dubai Judicial Institute, who were hosting a group of US students studying law and governing in the UAE. Their visit included a lunch and cultural tour of the traditional village along the Dubai Creek. The SMCCU is keen to meet the needs of the community and forward its mission of providing an open platform for all individuals wishing to experience local culture in Dubai.
The SMCCU was pleased to host a group of Nordic Business Councils this week where top executives and investors came together to further their knowledge about doing business in the Emirates and the GCC at large. The focus of the discussion included the manners, principles and values that influence business interactions in the region. The Danish, Finnish and Swedish Council’s member organisations attended the event as well as the Norwegian Ambassador. The SMCCU is keen to play a pivotal role in assisting corporations and institutions to enhance their knowledge and cultural acumen. You can find out more by visiting our website at http://www.cultures.ae/cultural_discovery.php
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding was invited to speak at the TEDX event held yesterday at JESS Arabian Ranches. The event thoughtfully titled the “Pursuit of Happiness” was meant to inspire people to action, and re-evaluate their personal pursuits. Among the speakers were our own General Manager Nasif Kayed, adventurer Adrian Hayes who traveled 1500 kilometers from Salalah to Abu Dhabi in 44 days, and breakfast news radio host for Dubai Eye Brandy Scott and others who spoke about what this famous expression means to all of them. The event was organized as a part of the student’s IB CAS Creative Action and Service project. Mr. Kayed spoke about his own personal and business pursuits throughout life and how each one of them brought him to a realization about his own “Pursuit of Happiness”. Many of the speakers focused on how, when life produces a set of circumstances we can have contentment and fulfillment in overcoming or accomplishing our goals. These motivational talks together produced an interesting event full of wisdom and advice for all those in attendance.
Celebrating 15 Years
This year SMCCU celebrates 15 years of service in the community providing cultural awareness programmes whose aim is to build bridges of understanding among the more that 200 nationalities living, working and visiting in the UAE. Since its inception the centre through its programmes has recieved close to three quarters of a million guests, 500,000 guests at the Jumeirah Mosque alone! As a part of this achievement, the SMCCU is introducing and expanding its programmes and activities.
The SMCCU over the last several years has enhanced many of its existing programmes to better serve the community under the philosophy “Open doors. Open minds.” We have expanded our bespoke Schools Programme, by tailoring content to suit the needs of the educational institutions who participate. Many visiting universities have made us a “first stop” on their trip to Dubai, and local schools have enhanced students cultural “know how” by visiting us yearly. The SMCCU continues to provide bespoke Cultural Awareness Programmes to corporations, business groups, embassies, consulates, and institutions providing them with useful tools for team building from within their organizations and strategies to enhancing their business relationships with local companies through the understanding of cultural norms in the workplace. In late 2012, the SMCCU added “Movie Night” to its list of events which will focus on using film and documentaries to highlight the culture, traditions and religion of the people of the UAE, followed by a Q & A session with our staff and volunteers. Subscribe to our newsletter at www.cultures.ae to learn more about upcoming events and programmes.