The Emirates Fine Arts Society members have been busy this week reviewing the more than 550 pieces of artwork received from 53 schools across the UAE. This year we had entries from schools in Dubai as well as Abu Dhabi, Sharjah. Al Ain and Fujairah. Students were asked to depict their favorite historic site, and submit their works for a change to win a place in our 2016 Treasures of the UAE Art Competition Calendar. The calendar will feature 24 winners whose works will make up the 12 Gregorian and 12 Hijri months of the this Arabic/English calendar. This year our sponsor, Yas Water World, Nestle, and Explorer have generously provided their support through prizes worth up to 1000AED for the winners. Our Judges, Khalil Abdul Wahid, Curator of the 30th Annual exhibition of Emirates fine Arts Society 2012 at Sharjah Art Museum and Visual Arts Manager at The Culture and Arts Authority, Muna AbdulQader AlAli, Member of the Emirates Fine Arts Society and Nasir A. Nasralla, Member of the Emirates Fine Arts Society generously donated their time to choosing our winners. All winners and their families will be honored at the SMCCU’s National Day Celebrations in the Al Fahidi Historic District of Dubai on December 2nd,2015. We’ve put together a Participants book, which can be viewed below.
The President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed has announced that November 30th will be an official holiday and the annual commemoration day for our fallen soldiers and citizens who have given their lives in the UAE and abroad in the field of civil, military and humanitarian service.
Martyr’s Day is meant to pay tribute to the martyrs, acknowledging them as role models who sacrificed themselves and led the way for other Emirati youth to follow their legacy to defend sovereignty and independence and protect national and cultural gains of the homeland as well as the principles of justice and peace.
The first Emirati Soldier to die in the line of duty was Salem Suhail bin Khamis, on November 30 in 1971,
during the “battle of the Greater Tunb” against Iranian forces shortly before the UAE’s formation. Bin Khamis had led a six-member police force on Greater Tunb, invaded by Iran on the eve of Federation. He had refused to lower the flag of Ras Al Khaimah, and the invaders killed him for his defiance. On the 30th of November, Martyrs Day will be observed and all Martyr’s including the more than 50 that have fallen during “Operation Restoring Hope” in Yemen will be honored.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also reminds us of the mothers who have lost their sons, and has mentioned on several occasions the importance of honoring the families of our heroes for their sacrifice and support given to their children in military service.
Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed said that “the martyrs of UAE are still alive among us and in our hearts as their memory is immortalized in our minds by their sacrifices, honor and good behavior inspiring generations, illuminating the way for them, giving them determination and strong will as well as the values of loyalty and patriotism without which there is no dignity for nations.”
Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, ordered that a square be dedicated in honor of the servicemen. Building of a monument is proposed to honor those who died in the line of duty is to be inaugurated on Martyrs’ Day. Sharjah will be installing a martyrs’ monument on Maliha Road, near the Sharjah Centre for Space and Astronomy, and a road in Sharjah University City will be renamed Martyr’s Road.
Each year the SMCCU is keen to be a part of the cultural induction and training that takes place at local international schools throughout the UAE. This year the SMCCU saw more that 35 schools’ staff and teachers in the month of August, and will continue to participate in new and returning staff training year round. Visiting the centre in one the oldest historic neighborhoods in Dubai is an excellent and interesting way to experience Emirati hospitality and culture as well as enjoying an open Q & A session which is meant to help acclimate staff to living, working and teaching in Dubai. Top schools such as King’s Dubai, Gems World Academy, Bradenton Prep, American Academy Al Mizhar, Dubai American Academy, Jumeirah College, Universal American School, The School of Research Science, Raffles International, Jumeirah Baccalaureate, Greenfield Community School, Horizon International School, The Sheffield School, Deira International School, American School of Dubai, Star International Schools, Nord Anglica, and Victoria International School attend our programs year on year. Several local universities have chosen to participate in our student orientation programs, and local international schools participate in bespoke cultural programs throughout the year. Teachers utilize our programs to support the KHDA and international social studies and natural sciences curriculums. With a variety of subjects available related to Dubai’s rich history and vibrate present, these programs offer an alternative hands on learning environment for students to experience local culture. To find out more about what we have on offer, visit http://www.cultures.ae or email us at email@example.com.
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding has been hosting guests during the month of Ramadan since 1998. The program began with the founder Abdullah Bin Eisa Al Serkal and other volunteers who invited expats into their homes to experience Ramadan with the family.
In 1999, the SMCCU hosted its first Ramadan Tent at the Landmark Jumeirah Mosque During the month of Ramadan.
By 2004, the Iftar Events moved to our current home, an old wind tower house in the Al Fahidi Historic District of Dubai.
Throughout the years, visitor and residents, dignitaries, business groups and social clubs have joined the 1000’s of individuals who have participated in these cultural and spiritual events.
The evening begins with the breaking of the fast, consisting of dates, water and Arabic coffee, followed by evening prayers performed in view of the guests. After prayers are concluded, guests are invited to enjoy the local Emirati dishes prepared such as Machboos, Saloona, Thareed, Margoogah, and salad. After the meal, guests take a short walk through the district to the Diwan Mosque. Inside, the group learns about the house of worship, prayer, and why Ramadan is such a special month for worships. Event goers then return to the wind tower house where dessert is served, and an open Q & A discussion is run by young volunteers. It’s an opportunity for the guests to get to know local Emiratis, and hear their points of view on the city, the religion, growing up during the development of Dubai, and current affairs. The volunteers will admit that they’re not experts on the subjects but are willing to share their views to give visitors a better insight into local culture traditions and religion.
This year the SMCCU is continuing its tradition of hosting guests in the Al Fahidi Historic District of Dubai for Iftar. Special guests in 2015 included the Consul General of Bulgaria, Bogdan Kolarov, guests of the British Embassy, Chancellor of Environmental Sciences at American University of Sharjah Bjorn Kjerfve, Hong Kong celebrity Dodo Cheng, Mr David Chaplin, First Secretary at the Embassy of Australia, Ms Emma Buckingham, Vice-Consul of Australia, Ms Kim Debenham, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Australia.
The SMCCU’s mission is to promote cultural understanding and provide a venue where visitors and residents can come together in an informal open atmosphere and get to know a little more about the Emirates through the eyes of an Emirati.
To find out more, visit our website at http://www.cultures.ae.
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) has been at the forefront in promoting an authentic understanding of the UAE and the region’s traditions and practices. The wealth of information that can be accessed here is to ensure that both Emiratis and expatriates are aware of and understand these traditions and practices, and the role they play in distinguishing the culture of the region.
A number of expatriates often express discomfort at having to conform to the guidelines that are in place for Ramadan. The UAE is a very tolerant country. Even if you experience challenges in understanding the culture, it is courteous and wise to observe and follow the laws that are in place. Keep in mind that you are in a Muslim country.
As the Holy month of Ramadan approaches, we have received numerous requests to remind our audience of what the Holy month of Ramadan means to Muslims, the ‘dos and don’ts’ and the activities that they can expect to see throughout this time.
Below are some guidelines that you can use to learn more about Ramadan.
The Holy Month of Ramadan
The Holy month of Ramadan begins on June 19 this year. While expatriates who have been living in the UAE or the region for a few
Ramadan, or the Month of Fasting is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam. It is regarded as the holiest month in the Islam calendar because Muslims believe that the Qur’an (Koran) was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during the month of Ramadan on the night of Laylat al Qadr (Laylat ul Qadr), one of the last ten nights of Ramadan. Ramadan ends on with the festival of Eid-ul Fitr – Day of celebration and gratitude.
A superficial observation that some persons tend to commonly share with those who do not know much about the holy month is that it is mainly a time of ‘not eating and drinking (fasting)’. However, there are many additional significant activities that encourage spiritual growth and allow for deeper reasons for what is done, when it is done and how it is done
The act of fasting during the daylight hours is an essential spiritual act. The objective is to obtain God Consciousness. For Muslims,
Even though all Muslims are encouraged to fast daily, there are a few exceptions that you should keep in mind. Persons who are exempted from fasting include those who are travelling long distances, the elderly, the insane, women who are menstruating, pregnant women, nursing women, the sick, and children under the age of 12.
Throughout the year, there may be instances in which our focus on spiritual growth may be minimised as a result of distractions. The Holy Month of Ramadan creates mindfulness of our shortcomings, as through reflection, we are able to strengthen the areas in which our faith may have weakened.
Between sunrise and sundown, sexual relations are forbidden. This is done in order to remind, and in some instances teach couples to appreciate and value each other more.
The holy book is also read daily and there is an increase in our prayers, particularly at night. We are more aware of how we behave and the manner in which we interact with each other. This means that undesirable behaviours such as being arrogant, vain, disrespectful or unkind are strictly forbidden. Gossiping and back stabbing are also forbidden during the process of fasting.
Zakat & Charity
Ramadan is a time in which a lot of emphasis is placed on charitable works. Special focus is given to helping those who are in need and looking after the poor.
Zakat Al Fitr is given at this time before the Eid prayer and equals 20AED per fasting person, as a token of thankfulness to God for having enabled him to observe fasts. Its purpose is to purify those who fast from any indecent act or speech and to help the poor and needy. It should not to be confused with Zakat, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, an obligation for every Muslim that fits the criteria. It is a mandatory way of giving money with the purpose of redistributing wealth. Each Muslim is expected to give 2.5 per cent of the value of his capital assets. This is then distributed by various Islamic organizations to those who are less fortunate.
Fellowship, Family & Iftar
During Ramadan, there is much social interaction between friends and family. Muslims are encouraged to visit friends and in particular, those with whom contact has faded.
Those of you, who have experienced Ramadan in the UAE, can confirm that during the evening hours, just before Iftar, there is an overwhelming amount of traffic on the road. This is usually a result of persons trying to get to specific locations for Iftar. Iftar is the evening meal after sunset to break the daily fast during Ramadan.
Key things to remember
At SMCCU our goal is to empower everyone with the information that is needed in order to facilitate a better understanding of the UAE and the region. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have; so don’t be afraid to ask. Our doors are open to you and in the process of sharing; we hope to open your minds to who we are as a people, a country and a region.
In conclusion, the Holy month of Ramadan is a great time for us to grow spiritually, to celebrate the joys of sharing and to show appreciation for all the gifts that we are fortunate to have. Through an overall feeling of thoughtfulness and reflection, we are able to reconnect with Allah who reminds us of the importance of worship and fellowship.
To learn more about our Iftar packages, click here.
%d bloggers like this: