Local traditions and culture in United Arab Emirates

  • Local Customs
    by machomikemd
  • Local Customs
    by machomikemd
  • Local Customs
    by machomikemd

Most Viewed Local Customs in United Arab Emirates

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    Commercial Fishing

    by traveldave Updated Apr 14, 2011

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    Because the United Arab Emirates has coasts along both the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, commercial fishing has for centuries been an important part of the lives of the Arabs who lived on the coasts. Traditionally, wooden fishing boats called sambuk, wooden boats with a mast for a sail, were used, but now more conventional diesel-powered craft are employed. Techniques for catching the fish historically included nets and special cages made from palm fronds. Nowadays, however, nets are almost universally used. The men still take to the sea to catch fish, and the women sort and sell the fish. In the late afternoon, visitors can watch the fishermen bring in the catch in ports along the coast.

    There are about 300 varieties of fish in the waters off the United Arab Emirates, and fish is a food staple along the coast. (Inland, camel and goat meat are staples). Popular types of fish available in the United Arab Emirates include hammour (a type of grouper), barracuda, tuna, and kingfish. Prawns and other kinds of seafood are also part of the country's cuisine.

    Fish is usually cooked on grills and seasoned with indigenous spices such as cardamon, coriander, or cumin, or imported spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, chili, saffron, or tumeric.

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    Photography of Muslim Women

    by traveldave Updated Apr 14, 2011

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    Photography of Muslim women is generally considered offensive, and anyone caught taking pictures may face the wrath of their male relations, or may have to answer to the police. Therefore, anyone wanting to take pictures of women in their abayas should do so discretely and from a distance.

    Most female citizens of the United Arab Emirates are Muslim, and therefore normally dress in the abaya (also called the shaili), a black full-length covering. Under the abaya, women wear loose sirwal, or trousers, and a kandura, a dress frequently embroidered in gold or silver. Koranic law dictates that the abaya be worn whenever in public, and this includes the beach. It is not uncommon to see groups of women dressed in abayas walking along the beach, or wading up to their ankles in the water.

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    Islam

    by traveldave Updated Oct 5, 2007

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    Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates. Unlike in some of its neighboring countries, other religions are tolerated, and even officially sanctioned. There are Christian churches in most of the larger cities and towns. Alcohol is available to non-Muslims in hotels in all of the emirates except Abu Dhabi. Western tourists may wear shorts, and it is not uncommon to see Western women in bikinis on the beaches. However, visitors should keep in mind that what may be acceptable on a beach or in a hotel may not necessarily be acceptable on the streets.

    Despite the openness toward other beliefs, Islam is nevertheless an important aspect in the lives of the citizens of the United Arab Emirates. Mosques are to be seen everywhere, from the largest cities to the smallest towns, and the call to prayer is heard throughout the country five times per day. Most Muslim women still wear the abaya, a full-length black covering. However, the hard-line fanatacism that is present in many Muslim countries is not tolerated in the United Arab Emirates, and it is a safe country to visit in what can be a volatile part of the world.

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    The Camel

    by traveldave Updated Aug 26, 2007

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    Historically, the camel was the most important animal in the lives of the nomadic Bedu (sometimes called Bedouin) of the Arabian Peninsula. It was the main form of transportation, it served as a general beast of burden, its meat and milk were food staples, and its hides were used for leather. (In Oman I tried camel's milk. See my "Restaurant" tip on my Oman page to see what it was like).

    Nowadays, many rural people in the United Arab Emirates still tend herds of camels, and it is common to come across camels anywhere in the desert. Although their meat and milk are still used, most camels are raised for racing. Each emirate has its own camel-racing track, except for Fujairah, where bullfighting is popular. Most race tracks are circular, but the one in Digdaga in Ras al-Khaimah emirate is a one-mile (1.6-kilometer) straightaway.

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    Dhows

    by traveldave Updated Aug 26, 2007

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    Dhows are a type of wooden boat traditionally powered by sail that have been used for centuries on trade routes between the Middle East, India and East Africa. The name is not Arabic, but comes from a Swahili word, dau, meaning "boat" or "ship." The Arabic word is al boom.

    Pearls from the Persian Gulf were traded for gold, precious stones, and ivory from Africa, and oils, ointments, and spices from India. Nowadays, however, most trade is in electronic goods and canned food, although some dhows are used for smuggling. And now most dhows are equipped with diesel engines, radar, and navigational aids and are seldom powered by sail. It is common to see dhows in ports all along the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean in the United Arab Emirates, as well as Oman.

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    Cooling Towers

    by josephescu Written Jan 20, 2007

    Cooling (or wind) towers, designed to catch the smallest breeze and bring it down in the house, the air conditioning system of the pre-oil Arabia.
    Out of aesthetic reasons, this architectural element is present today in modern blocks, as you can see here in Sharjah.

    modern cooling towers....decorate only
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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    96 hours visa

    by josephescu Written Jan 19, 2007

    Transit passengers in the UAE are entitled to receive a 96 hours visa (i.e. 4 days).

    Formalities are pretty straightforward and free of charge: hand in the passport to a “96 hours visa” desk in the airport and you’ll receive it back together with the paperwork and forms already filled in in less than 30 minutes. Head to the passport control, take some biometric tests, passport stamped and you are in the UAE.

    In “common” language, in case of a 96 hours visa the airline company “sponsors” you. You do not need to bring photos or let the airline know in advance.

    Related to:
    • Business Travel
    • Luxury Travel
    • Backpacking

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    Falcons

    by dr.firas Written Apr 8, 2006

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    The noble birds, and fastest ever animal in the world, using the gravity laws a falcon fall down with a speed up to 300 kms in hour to make small chances for surviving to the target poor animal victim, Falcons are the sign and favorite animal of the wealthy Sheikh's of UAE, and they coast loooooots of money, and there are big efforts and daily job to tame them, in the end it is a prestigious and great friend of Arab noble chief's...thus Arabian princes are called Falcons.

    Dr.Firas and beautiful Falcon
    Related to:
    • Photography

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    Sculptures In Traffic Circles

    by traveldave Updated Dec 18, 2005

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    In the United Arab Emirates, as in many Arabic countries, human representation in artwork is forbidden according to Koranic law. Therefore, public art often consists of abstract scupltures in traffic circles. In addition to the gigantic coffee pot pictured here, I saw huge ceramic pots, a clock tower, ancient cannons, a replica of the Koran, an eagle, mountain sheep, and large lanterns.

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    Tipping

    by rayvan Written Sep 7, 2004

    In many Middle Eastern countries there is a tendency to ask for tips or baksish by everybody. This is a practice which is encouraged by gullible tourists who don’t know better. Don’t feel obliged or pressured into do so, just to get them off your back. Would you tip someone at home when you feel they don’t deserve it? I wouldn’t think so.

    Tipping can be a sensitive issue, because you don’t want to appear mean or tight, however you don’t want to look like a total mug either.

    I usually only tip for a service (e.g. a porter which has just hauled your 3 suitcases from a taxi up 20 flights of stairs) or when I feel it is merited. If you are staying in a hotel for a longer period of time, you don’t need to tip every time you get out of a car when someone opens your door. I usually tend to tip a higher than normal amount to the porter when I actually leave the hotel.

    My general rule is if you are going to tip, do it for a reason and tip slightly more than normal. It does get you noticed and you are guaranteed a good service next time you return to the same place

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    Ramadan In Islam

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Apr 26, 2004

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    Ramadan.
    In Islam, the holy month of fasting, the ninth month of the Muslim year, in which ýthe Qur'an was sent down as a guidance for the peopleý (Qur'an 2:185).

    For more information on the Holy Month, click here to visit my Travelogue:

    The Holy Month of Ramadan

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    DANCERS: typical (maybe prefab...

    by shivan Updated Sep 23, 2003

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    DANCERS: typical (maybe prefab for tourists) bedouin dancers.

    The "maybe" word is an option here. The whole organization was constructed to let tourist feel the desert atmosphere but nothing was real. This kingd of show are to be enjoyed for what they are. Not many questions, don't think much to it, don't think to the money you have spent to be there, just enjoy a good meal and relax...

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    DANCERS: belly dancer, much...

    by shivan Updated Sep 23, 2003

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    DANCERS: belly dancer, much typical, so bad the dancer was italian...

    This has been the end of our night outside the town. After the "rally" I talked about in my first tip, we have been brought in a camp to enjoy a small camel ride, a small spectacle with actors and this dancers show.

    Someone told me this girl is from Milan and ruined the whole atmosphere.

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    Don't be surprised..

    by Rawabi Written May 27, 2003

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    You might not need this but it's just for your info... :)
    If you ever saw a house with light decoration don't think it's a tourism spot!! it's a wedding!!!
    Over here the bride's house is usually decorated with lights for a day or two.. or maybe even a week.. to announce the wedding and share the joy.. :)
    The ceremony usually takes place in a wedding hall at hotels, though..

    Wedding.

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    Men.. and women...

    by Rawabi Written May 20, 2003

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    Most of you live in a society in which men and women work together, study together and generally spend time together as friends/ lovers.. Here in UAE women work side to side with men.. but there are always limits..
    never shake hand with a local girl!!!! She won't bite you! I mean local girls are open minded and generally cool.. but it's against the religion and the culture.. so be careful.. :)

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United Arab Emirates Local Customs

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