Tag Archives: religion

Emirati Hospitality


Dubai and hospitality are synonymous. April is the month for the Arabian Travel Market; an annual exhibition to highlight why tourists should come visit Dubai throughout the year. Yet above all of the various entries of resorts, tour providers, and world class travel providers, is the concept they will spout, but not describe. The inherent generosity behind the holy privilege of hospitality for the Emirati.

For thousands of years, people have arrived by boat to the Dubai Creek seeking trade, shelter from cyclones and to repair their dhows (wooden boats). From the south-west they also came by desert, connecting the cities in Yemen and Oman to the oases of Al Ain, the port city of Dubai, the oases of Liwa and up to our neighbours in Bahrain, Qatar and The Nejd (eastern Saudi Arabia). To play host even unexpectedly, is uniquely seen as a privilege to Muslims and thus the people of Dubai, not always the descriptor people would use when finding an unannounced guest. In Islam it is ruled that to feed or shelter a guest is equal to offering the same for God. “…then Allah will say, oh son of Adam, I was needed food but you did not feed me. Son of Adam responded, Oh Allah how could I feed You, You are lord of the worlds? Did not you know my servant was hungry but you did not feed him. If you had, you would have found me & benefit from me.” Yet aside from religious adherence, within the local culture, playing host became a source of interest, adding variety to the average days and even a friendly competition in who is most generous. The resources may have changed, but the intention of the Dubai host has remained the same; to leave the guests feeling welcomed, comforted and pleased beyond measure wanting to return.

It all starts with the kind, calm welcome and pleasing smile, urging the expected and unexpected guest to enter. Upon sitting down in a house, office or majlis it is an absolute expectation to serve steaming hot Qahwa, (Arabic Coffee) in just two to three sips at a time, followed by a simple, sweet date. One cup gives you the time to ask a question or seek a signature, while still having an exchange of hospitality. Or the guest may enjoy cup after cup to their hearts content, with each refill giving blessings toward the host from Allah, and perhaps stay on for a meal or longer. The serving pot for the coffee; called a della, is a favourite symbol of hospitality in the Emirates. The wide bottom, narrowing pot with an elegant dome topped by a baluster and the grand swoop of the handle, simply evokes this tool for welcome is for ceremony and not a mere vessel for boiling a drink. Held in the left hand, and a pile of small round cups in the right, the coffee server always stands, patient & ready with complete dedication to play server and break from less interesting duties as they listen in on the conversation of this new person and the host.

A meal may follow the coffee. The hosts will provide as much food as possible, to ensure some dishes would be pleasing to the guests taste. Some houses may urge the guest to eat on their own and not be shy, while most host will remain, eating bit by bit so as to share the meal and urge the guest on, yet making the impression this food is the guests. Meals are followed with teas and bukhoor (incense). Should the guest be needing lodging, an Arabic majlis is transformed easily into wall to wall bedding and yet is still outside of the private space of the family house. Female guests may also be welcomed into a bedroom within the family quarters. In either setting, good manners of Arabia and in Islam dictate up to three nights is a welcome blessing. Longer than three and you may end up putting strain on your host’s finances, time or space.

Hospitality of strangers is done less so in these modern years, where there is also much to care about in regards to protection and safety. In years past it was more sacrosanct and rarely abused. However, until now there are still those families, known to the poor or current Bedouin where they know they will be welcomed as a guest, even if their goal is more to fill their stomachs. They will be sent on their way only after their health has been checked, clothes laundered with likely a few surprise donations tucked in the pockets of some new items, hidden amongst the rest; no honour questioned or opportunity for shame. In Al Ain, hospitals even know which families will take on a discharged patient, alone, away from their family needing someone to look after them for a while. It is the honour of the families of Bedouin heritage especially who do so, returning a debt to Hoba (Karma) for hospitality received in the past and desired in the future.

The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is participating in the Arabian Travel Market at the Dubai World Trade Centre where we will be reminding others in the travel industry that we are the premier entity for tourists and expatriates to experience and understand this unique Emirati hospitality. Come visit us there April 22-25.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under culture, Events, News

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

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under culture, Events, religion

Students Celebrate UAE National Day at the “Treasures of the UAE” Art Competition 2014


As a part of the 42nd National Day Celebrations, the SMCCU held its second annual “Treasures of the UAE” Art Competition 2013 Awards Ceremony in the the historic Al Fahidi District of Dubai.  Young artists between the ages of 7- 18 years were asked to submit original current art work depicting one of the historic sites across the UAE. 61 schools participated,  and submitted up to 12 artworks divided by age group. Our Judges this year from the Emirates Fine Arts Society, reviewed 283 submissions and chose 24 winners whose artwork is now featured in the Treasures of the UAE 2014 Calendar.

The awards ceremony was attended by the winning artists and their families along with school representatives, judges, and sponsors. Our generous sponsors this year, Nestle, Wild Wadi, Pepsico, and Jones, Lang LaSalle helped to make this year’s competition a success.  We would also like to thank all of those who  participated including volunteers, support staff team, Lucy, Debbie, Caroline, Yvette, Jess & Joyce. Together, we further our joint aim of highlighting the rich history and humble beginnings of this great nation we all call home.  The SMCCU is keen to raise awareness through many such events about the local culture, traditions and religion of the UAE. As a part of the celebrations, 120+ guests were treated to an Emirati cultural meal and explanation of the traditions surrounding food and honoring guests.  The meal was followed by a visit to the historic Diwan Mosque, where our Managing Director, Nasif Kayed, explained the significance of the mosque in the daily lives of Emiratis and muslims worldwide.

One of our visitors had this to say about the event:

Just a small note to express my gratitude for a  time well spent  this morning at the ‘treasures of the UAE ‘ presentation ceremony.

Although I am a regular visitor to Bastakhiya as an architect and a keen amateur photographer , it is the first time I visited SMCCU at the invitation of my brother as my nephew was one of the prize recipients.

I was impressed by the general courtesy ,hospitality and the friendliness of everybody from the top man to the servers! Enjoyed the meal and the explanation of the culture and customs that came along with it. The English explanations of the youngsters were flawless and everything was conducted with passion and in keeping with the motto – ‘open doors, open minds!’

Organizations such as yours are the answer to the current world in turmoil –  that brings cultures and beliefs together , endorsing ,- that understanding  and respect for each other are of prime importance for peace in humanity.

Thank you and wish you every success to opening doors and minds effectively and prolifically !!

Antonio Dias, Gems Modern School

View the Winning Artwork or our Participants Booklet

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, News

DUBAI Gets EXPO 2020


The SMCCU would like to congratulate Dubai,  and all of those who participated in showcasing this great city to the world; including  the UAE’s President and Vice President, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Razshid Al Maktoum respectively, Dubai’s EXPO2020 committee and its leadership, the  judging committee, participating companies, businesses, citizens and expats alike who supported our bid to host the 2020 Expo.

Dubai’s theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, lies at the heart of who Dubai is. It is not a new story, but a continuing story, of a village in the desert, at a crossroads connecting peoples and cultures, exchanging not limited to material goods but ideas, cultures and philosophies. From the first Bedouin tribes to arrive in the region, to our recent migration of people from all over the globe who truly call Dubai home, our city is,  through its visionary leadership a portrait of  what the future can be in this region.

We congratulate the UAE on its accomplishments thus far, but as HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum expressed, this is just the beginning of our goals as a city, country and people. It is not a task to be performed alone, and we know that our global partners and individuals will play a pivotal role in making this happen. It is our joint task to fulfill the vision, mission and path before us, to be an example to the world by connecting minds in advancing technology for global trade, sustainability with environmental awareness and preservation of both the tangible and intangible: the heritage and culture of the people, and new and creative innovation that encourages and provides a path to economic development in the region.

With these themes in mind we hope for a focused, progressive path to an Expo that showcases Dubai as a pinnacle of our global world and well able to shape not only its own future but  a better future of all.

???????????????

2 Comments

November 27, 2013 · 4:31 pm

SMCCU Training Young Emiratis to Carry the Torch


SMCCU welcomes our young generation to join our programmes and be part of our Culture Awareness Academy,  where they can  learn about our own culture, history, traditions, and the faith Islam and how to convey this information accurately to others. Our aim is to equip the young generation with the knowledge and the skills needed to keep up with the rapid growth of the UAE and the place that it holds in the modern, technology advanced world.

It is without a doubt not easy for our youth who are born and raised in the UAE.  Living in a multi-cultural city, they are asked questions  by so many from all over the world.    To be equipped to demystify, explain and represent our culture to the world can be daunting,  especially when  the  worldwide media gives a mostly negative point of you, and of course ignores the positive. That’s why  SMCCU is the perfect venue, where you can come, meet, learn, practice and build your knowledge, self-esteem, and  become confident with knowledge  of our heritage, history, past and faith.  So join us, you will without a doubt gain something immeasurable.

As to our guests(Expats) and visiting tourists, we are glad to have you come ask any question you have in mind, let us learn about one another; we learn from your culture as you learn from ours as we exchange our talks in the most open way under the “Open doors. Open minds” banner.  Hope to see you soon; login and book anytime.  http://www.cultures.ae/index.php?Itemid=710

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under News