Tag Archives: Dubai Culture

Eid Al Adha


It is Eid again, a time to celebrate! Eid means festivity or celebration in Arabic. Eid Al Adha means the Festival of the Sacrifice. It is an Islamic festivity observed by Muslims around the world, which commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham (Peace Be Upon Him) to follow God’s command to sacrifice his son. Eid Al-Adha also marks the end of the Hajj which means pilgrimage.

Hajj is Muslims annual pilgrimage to the Holy city of Mecca, and the fifth pillar of Islam. All Muslims who are physically and financially able have to perform this pillar at least once in their lifetime. Millions of Muslims from different parts of the world travel to the Islam’s Holiest city of Mecca to visit the Kaa’ba. The Kaa’ba is the first house of worship ever built by the first mankind, Prophet Adam (PBUH), which was rebuilt by Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) and his son.

2245464943_8b056de8d2_bThe Hajj is a ritual that commemorates the trials and tribulations of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) and his family, during which pilgrims follow their footsteps. It is perceived as a journey of the body, mind and soul. A time for spiritual connection, asking for forgiveness, a reflection of one’s life and a remembrance of mortality and the Day of Judgment. Hajj takes place during the month of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar. It officially starts on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah and lasts for five days.

During Hajj all Muslims are equal and united regardless of colour, ethnicity, gender, language or status. This is reflected by the pilgrim’s dress, which is aimed to show equality and modesty. Men wear two pieces of unstitched white cloth, while women wear simple long and loose garments covering their body showing only their face and hands, therefore not reflecting any wealth.

During the first day of Eid Al Adha Festivities, Muslims dress in new clothes and go to the Mosque for the congregational Eid prayer in the morning. Afterwards they go to the slaughterhouse where the sacrifice is made to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s (PBUH) example of obedience. The meat of the slaughtered sheep is divided into three, a third for the poor, a third to friends and neighbours and a third for the family’s consumption. The rest of the day is spent visiting family, friends and neighbours, gathering to share meals and gifts. The three days of Eid are a time of celebration, generosity and joy.

It is a courtesy to greet your Muslim friend or neighbour by saying Eid Mubarak, which means Blessed Eid.

To understand more about Islam’s 5 pillars you can join our guided visit to the Jumeirah Mosque during the Eid or anytime throughout the year.
jumeirah-mosque

 

 

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Emirati Machboos Recipe


Machboos is one of the most popular Emirati dishes.  It consists of rice and can be made with chicken, lamb, or seafood. We serve it daily in our cultural meals. Many of our guests enjoyed it and requested the recipe, which we are happy to share with you. Recipes can vary from one household to another, as each one adds their personal touch to it, so this is our version.

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INGREDIENTS

  • I Kg chicken, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 Kg white basmati rice
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 fresh tomatoes chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 table spoons chopped coriander
  • 1 potatoe chopped into square pieces
  • 2 14cups water

spices:

  • 1 tablespoon bezar (mixed spice)*
  • sea salt (as desired)
  • 1 whole dried lime (pierced a few times with a skewer. Called loomi)
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 tablespoons Ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 4 whole cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 tsp saffron, soaked in lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse the chicken and rub it with sea salt and bezar*, then brown it gently on both sides with some ghee.
  2. Transfer to a pot, add some ghee, fry the garlic, tomato, loomi, cinnamon, cardamom and coriander.
  3. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer in low heat for 15 minutes..
  4. Remove chicken pieces from the pot.
  5. Rinse the white Basmati rice until the water runs clear.
  6. Add rice to the pot and stir gently, then set the chicken on top of the rice.
  7. Add the water until it covers the chicken and bring to a boil.
  8. Sprinkle the saffron mix, cover the pot and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile fry slices of onion in the remaining ghee until soft and browned, remove from heat and add raisins to the onions.
  10. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot on a platter with the onion/raisin mixture as garnish on top of the rice. You can also add boiled eggs for decoration.

And bil afia, which means in good health, the Arabic way of saying bon appetite.

Follow our blog for other recipes coming up soon. We previously shared the recipe for the Ligamat.

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The Fuala


Al Fuala, is a beautiful Emirati habit that has been abandoned by some Emirati.  It consists of coffee, tea, a simple spread of traditional dishes and an assortment of fruits. The Fuala represent the authentic generosity of greeting family, neighbours and guests. It is also an incentive for them to regularly communicate and exchange visits in a family atmosphere.

 

The term “Fuala”, derives from the Arabic word “good omen” and this is exactly what it represents, as local traditional dishes, such as Aseed (porridge), Khabeesah (pumpkin mash), Balalit (Emirati pancakes), Lugaymat (dumplings served with date syrup), fruits among others are offered to guests whether they are friends, neighbours, or just merely any passersby. It is usually served before noon or in the  afternoon.

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Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) strives to remove barriers and build cross-cultural understanding by raising awareness of the local culture, customs and religion. In its aim to preserve the traditional costumes and traditions of the United Arab Emirates, it has brought this Emirati tradition of serving Fuala back to life by adding it to its various activities and programs. It wishes to offer all its visitors, tourists, expats, diplomatic missions and corporations this unique cultural experience.

 

On Thursday afternoon, May 19th 2016, SMCCU launched its first Fuala by inviting some guests to share this genuine and traditional experience in a restored home in Al Fahdi historical district. The guests were greeted with Arabic coffee and dates while they were seated in the courtyard and were entertained by a group of Emirati young men who performed the traditional Zafra dance. Mr. Abdullah Al Serkal, SMCCU’s Founder and Director welcomed the guests and explained the tradition of the Foala and its significance to Emirati families. The guests were invited to savor the local food and fruits and encouraged to ask any questions. Guests had the opportunity to inquire about the local men and women’s dress, some even tried them on while their photos were taken, while others inquired about various local habits.

 

 

The Fuala program is now added to SMCCU’s various activities, offering its visitors another opportunity to experience genuine Emirati hospitality in a friendly atmosphere. It includes a talk and visit in the Diwan Mosque followed by a relaxing discussion in SMCCU’s courtyard. It runs every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday form 4:30 to 6:00 pm and prior reservations are essential.

 

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Kharareef Writing Contest Opens for Submissions February 19th


The SMCCU has partnered with ZUKharareef Story Telling Club and Sheikha AlYazia bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan’s ZOWD Foundation for the First Annual New Fairytales & Fables from the UAE Writing Competition. Last November, the contest idea won in the heritage category of the ZU Innovation Awards, and is the brainchild of ZUKharareef  Club President Noor Abdul Hamaid.  The SMCCU  has provided its expertise to the implementation strategy of the contest, and  details of the competition  and school  registration can be found on our website at www.cultures.ae/index.php/writing-contest . The contest is  meant to celebrate the art of storytelling within the Emirati local traditions and our participation and support in this cultural literacy project and reading initiative are part  The Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives, and the Year of Reading Project.

The concept of the contest is meant to connect our educational communities, celebrate Emirati heritage and culture, and contribute to HH Sheikh Mohammed’s efforts to encourage reading and writing in Arabic.  Students will be asked to compose their own “fairytales and fables” less than 500 words, in Arabic or English, that reflect the 40 themes chosen by the contest organizers.  These themes will focus on Emirati values and character traits, encourage  these values and/ or discourage values and behaviors inconsistent with Emirati culture. The competition will be held for grades 7-12 with groupings in English for grades 7-9 and 10-12 and the same categories will apply in Arabic.    Schools are required to host an internal competition and we encourage them to include all their grades in that process. Topics and themes will be announced on  February 19th, 2016, the opening day of the contest and submission deadline is March 19th, 2016 which coincides with World Story Telling Day 2016.

Winners will have their story illustrated and published in a short story book.

From the story Mile, a collection of short stories written by students at Zayed University

“Aiisha and the Gaf Tree”, a collection of short stories written by students at Zayed University

 

 

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Mouloud – The Commemoration of the Day of Birth of Prophet Mohammed’s 2015


Muslims around the world mark this Thursday, December 24th, the birth of the prophet Muhammed, Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH), the last prophet of God who spread the message of Islam. He was born on Monday, 12 or 17th Rabi’ Al-Awal, in the Islamic calendar, in the year 570 in the Gregorian calendar, in the town of Mecca, which is in now Saudi Arabia. His name derives from the Arabic verb ‘hamada’, meaning ‘to praise, to glorify’. Prophet Muhammed was an orphan whose father ‘Abdallah’ died before he was born and his mother ‘Amina’ died when he was only 6 years old. He was raised by his Grand father ‘Abdul Multalib’ and later by his uncle ‘Abu Talib.’  He was known across Mecca for his kindness of heart, correctness of manners and purity of morals. At the age of 40 he received the revelation from God on the mount of Hira, through the Angel Gabriel and spent the rest of his life uniting mankind together for the purpose of worshipping the One God of Adam and all the other prophets, peace be upon them all.

During his 60 years of life prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught several important principles and morals, and even set forth rules for combat. He taught Muslims that all humans are equal regardless of their race, color and nationality. Moreover he instructed them not to hurt, hate, transgress against, put down or despise others. He was not only a prophet and messenger of God, but a social reformer, a moral guide, a statesman, a faithful friend, a devoted husband and a loving father. Therefore, he is considered the best example of behavior for Muslims, and according to the Quran, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most excellent example for all of humanity. He was sent as a mercy to all mankind, he said:

The compassionate one (God) has mercy on those who are merciful, if you show mercy to those on earth, He Who is in heaven will show mercy to you

Even non-Muslim historians recognize him to as one of the most successful personalities in history. His complete biography has been authenticated and circulated amongst scholars around the world.

Here is some of what these scholars said about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), amongst them Michael H. Hart author of the book “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” New York: Hart Publishing Company, Inc. 1978, p. 33, who said

My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.

This is what Karen Armstrong, best-selling British author said about the compassion of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

In his 23 years of prophethood he transformed the Arab peninsula form paganism to the worship of one God; from tribal wars to solidarity and cohesion; from moral bankruptcy and lawlessness to the highest standard of moral excellence and disciplined living.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who spent his life spreading the message of Islam and peace, left us with these important words in his last sermon before his death, in the year 632 in Medina also in Saudi Arabia, reminding us to live in peace and good relations with God, oneself and others:

O People, listen to me in earnest, worship ALLAH, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action…

Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.”

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SMCCU’s 4th Annual Treasures of the UAE Art Competition Judging


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.  IMG_5821This 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.

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Two Common Myths: Hot Drinks & Black Clothing Make You Hotter


What bedouins and desert dwellers have known for centuries? Hot drinks cool you down, and black fabric protects us from the sun.Emirati Women  Still skeptical?  At the SMCCU, we strive to bust the common myths about the region.  With the help of pure science, what we have known from our own experience and traditions is unequivocally proven.  Take, for instance, the traditional drink of Emiratis and the GCC, Gahawa Arabia.  The Guardian writes, “Imbibing hot liquid can be cooling and warming. If you’re hot, it may warm you up a little, but when it reaches thermosensors in the oesophagus and stomach, these react as though the entire body is as hot as the drink, and turn up the sweat flow so much that, provided your clothing allows it to evaporate, you’ll end up cooler than when you started. Or, at least, this was deemed the most likely explanation for this effect in a study by Anthony Bain at the University of Ottawa’s Thermal bedouin ManErgonomics Laboratory.”

What about black robes in the desert?  This has been far more intriguing to the scientist who study human nature. There have been several published articles about why black is just as good if not better than white for the desert dweller.  Add the UV blocking effect that black has and white does not, and you can draw your own conclusions as we have.  (refer to the linked articles below).  Still not convinced?  Then why not visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and listen to our well-informed staff about the Emirati lifestyle and traditional customs that have survived our growth into a modern metropolis.  From daily tours and cultural meals, to the Iftar Dinner Events that will being in June 20th during Ramadan, guest are sure to leave with at least a better understanding of local culture through our “Open doors. Open minds.” programs.

 http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/aug/19/most-improbable-scientific-research-abrahams

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2006/aug/15/research.highereducation

 

 

 

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