you will find the most important informations about UAE's culture
Islam is the official religion and Arabic the official
language. The majority of the local population is Sunni. The communities
have their own schools and social and cultural institutions. English,
Urdu/Hindi and Farsi are also spoken. Traditionally, the people
of Abu Dhabi are courteous, kind and friendly and quite hospitable
both in social matters and in business. Foreigners. especially
tourists and visitors are treated with generosity. But they in
turn are expected to respect local customs, especially religious
practice. and abide by the law of the land. During Ramadan, the
holy month of fasting, non--Muslim foreigners are expected to
refrain from eating. drinking and smoking in public places during
the hours of fasting. In Ramadan official working hours are reduced.
Shops compensate for the loss of business by staying open longer.
The two Eids arc also the period when many people go abroad for
holidays. It is, therefore, advisable to book flights in and out
of the UAE well in advance.
Native menfolk of the Arabian peninsula have a
distinct form of dress. They wear an ankle-length shirt (dishdasha),
usually white (or colored or striped in winter), a white, or sometimes
red-chequered, headcloth (ghutra) and the twisted, black rope
piece (agal), holding the gutra in place. Men of distinction and
the Sheikhs also wear on top of their dishdasha a flowing cloak
(abba or bisht) edged with gold braid. It may he black or brown.
UAE women are very particular about their dress. They generally
cover themselves from head to feet with a black cloak called the
Reflecting the traditions of the desert, the role
of the camel has been given much attention. Once it carried the
people across the sands, providing at the same time milk, meat
and leather, while its shoulder-blades were used as little 'blackboards'
for children studying. Now proper school equipment is available
from other sources, as is leather, but many local families still
keep a few for meat and for milk. To encourage them to do so,
the government offers subsidies to those who still keep this noble
and historic beast of burden. The camel will more easily be noticed
by the visitor, however, during the great camel races held in
various locations throughout the country in the winter months,
when owners from the Emirates and the rest of Arabia pit their
fastest steeds one against the other. The major festivals attract
many hundreds of camels to compete for prizes that total several
million dollars. The top steeds can each fetch well over a million
dollars. Camel-racing has become one of the country's most popular
Another tradition that has taken on new life in
the years since the UAE was established is that of boat racing,
now given substantial encouragement by the government in the form
of handsome cash prizes. Two kinds of boats are used. The first
is powered by a single sail that catches the wind to drive wooden
boats of shallow draught fast across the surface of the sea. A
couple of dozen such sailing boats scudding across the waves,
their sails shining in the sun, is one of the most romantic sights
to be seen anywhere. The other boats are powered by men, not the
wind, great rowing boats of 20 meters or more in length, rowed
by up to a hundred oarsmen straining every muscle to reach the
finishing line. Boat races are held on special occasions throughout
the year, to commemorate events such as the annual National Day
holiday, and have proved a popular attraction for visitors, while,
at the same time, keeping alive the maritime traditions of the
UAE's sturdy people.
More of an individual sport is that of falconry,
whose origins among the Arabs date back many centuries, and are
lost in the mists of time. Flying Saker or peregrine falcons prized
for their strength or speed, the people of the Emirates practiced
falconry in the past not merely as a sport but as a way of providing
a useful supplement to their diet, or a tasty hare, or a well-fed
bustard. Today, it is purely a sport. and one which is popular
from the highest to the lowest in the land. Like other hinters,
however, the people of the Emirates are concerned with the need
to) understand and protect the environment, and the quarry which
they hunt, lest it disappears.
FOLK MUSIC AND DANCE
Folk dances and music are integral to any celebration.
Most dances are male-oriented. Everybody present at a joyous occasion
is expected to join in. Dancers sway together in a line or a circle
or clapping to the accompaniment of tambourines of various sizes,
with rings or bells attached. Drums are an integral part of classical
and folk music. A popular dance for females has young girls in
flowing black tresses swing their heads in a hypnotic, undulating
movement. Many popular songs are sung on special occasion. Both
music and words, usually of a bedu dialect, are simply composed.
The wedding provide the most popular occasions for traditional
dancing. Dance groups may begin performing a week or more before
the event. Most wedding music and dance is of local origin but
some brought by immigrants have also been absorbed into the folklore.
At functions attended by local dignitaries and state guests a
particular folksong - the Ayyalah - is performed. This is basically
developed from a war song whose purpose was to raise the morale
of the fighting men.