Religion as a Way of life
The people of Abu Dhabi and throughout the UAE, led by their President Sheikh Zayed, are deeply committed to Islam. It establishes the principles and values by which they live day-to-day, such as preserving family life, sharing and showing equal respect for one another. Abu Dhabi is a city of mosques, with well over 400 of them and more being built each year. They range from elaborate architectural masterpieces serving thousands of worshippers to small, modest rooms conveniently located. The Muezzin’s call to prayer forms a rhythmic pattern to life in the city. Muslims have a duty to pray five times a day, not necessarily in a mosque, but facing towards Mecca and reciting the prescribed prayers. The most important prayer is said in the mosque on the holy day, Friday.
Dressed by Tradition
Arab nationals usually wear their traditional dress. For men it is the white robe or dishdasha, with a white or red checked headcloth or gutra tied in place by the twisted black agal. A flowing gold-trimmed cloak or abba, is often added by men of high rank or wealth.
The woman’s abba or abbaya is normally black and covers her from head to foot, however underneath, her garments are often prettily embroidered. They consist of a rectangular half cloak layered over a voluminous dress, over a baggy trouser narrowed from knee to ankle. Many women also wear a canvas mask called a burqa which leaves only the eyes uncovered.
It surprises some visitors to Abu Dhabi to find the constitution of the UAE provides equality for women in both opportunity and social justice. There is a Womens Association in the Emirate, founded and chaired by the wife of the Ruler, to foster education and culture of women within the Islamic framework and Arab traditions.
Although local women are seldom seen in the streets, and older women still wear the burqa, the young generation is grasping the opportunity for education. Nowadays at least as many young women attend University as young men, and they go on to take paid positions outside the home. Women work in fields such as administration, commerce and medicine as well as the teaching profession.
Music and Dance
Traditional dances and folk songs are a part of most festivities, particularly weddings. The Ayyalah, performed by up to 50 men, which has its origins in a tribal war chant and victory dance, is usually part of the extended dancing and singing which may begin a week or more in advance of an Arab wedding celebration.
During Eids (the end of Ramadan) and other national festivals where feasting and dancing take place, young girls may perform the ‘hair dance’, swaying and tossing their long hair to the rhythm of the music. Another interesting part of the wedding ritual is the practice of decorating the bride’s hands and feet with henna on the eve of the marriage ceremony.
Bedouin women were traditionally expert weavers. Floor mats, food mats and bowls were woven from date palm fibres. Examples can still be found in Abu Dhabi’s souks. They also wove cotton and silver threads into trimmings for their garments, and fashioned coloured yarns into camel blankets and various decorative items for their tents. Some traditionally Arab-crafted metal objects such as the handsome patterned coffee pots, daggers and swords, are being reproduced for the souvenir trade. Bedouin jewellery, not often made by the Bedouins themselves but by travelling tinkers and craftsmen, would be given to the bride as a wedding gift. It too, is now widely available in the markets of Abu Dhabi and elsewhere.
Dress conservative when you're downtown or shopping. Men and women ideally should cover the lower body, not just out of cultural respect, but to avoid being a feast for local eyes. It can get disconcerting or embarassing. Don't tip like you're in the USA, i.e. don't be generous. When shopping, BARGAIN, for Gods sakes. BRING THE PRICE DOWN AGAIN AND AGAIN. Dont take photos of TRUE U.A.E. natives without their explicit permission.
It should be obvious really.
But just to re-iterate, you shouldn't show disrespect to the locals, their religion or their lifestyle. In particular (if you're a man) you must be respectful to women there.
If you're friendly and nice, you'll have no problems. There is a mix of cultures and religions, but the dominant values come from Islam and the Arabic culture.
Standing up for yourself is fine, but be polite. But this is a tolersnt country (for the M.E.), you're not gonna be thrown in jail for smoking in a non-smoking zone.
Falconery is the most favorite sports of a traditional Arab. This young man in modern dress has a pet Saker Falcon. However, His Highness Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Alnahayan has encouraged wildlife conservation also. At regular periods, the UAE releases captive falcons back in the wilds and monitors them. See our travelogue of NWFP, Pakistan.
As every muslim country UAE keeps its religious traditions and rules.So You need to respect it and not to smoke,not to appear anywhere in public places with open dress,while a Ramadan even not to chew a gum.And there is a very serious relation to alcohol drinks-they don't sale(in restaurants only) and You can't drink beer,ect,and also not to appear drunk on the streets and other public places neighter.Even no beer on the beaches.No topless swimsuits,even no strings!
Photo'Aquapark Wild Wadi'
Hmmm being Asian is not easy though because when you travel alone people will think that you are sort of doing 'monkey business' as my boyfriend saying it, so as a lady, alone..try not to be so friendly but of course friendly to the shop owners if you want to get more discount.
Please don't go shopping in skimpy tops and shorts. The local people find it offensive and think of you as a 'lady of the night'. Just be sensible and wear trousers and something with short sleeves. A girl is safe to walk around completely alone even at night - just don't wear suggestive clothing. You may even be spat at.
Irrespective of what you're wearing (bikini or long-sleeved floor-length dress, if you're a white female people will stare at you.
Men don't seem to attract so much attention - perhaps because people there are more comfortable with the idea of businessmen, rather than women.
Despite this, apart from on the beach / or by the pool, neither men nor women should walk around in swimwear.
The three-tiered hierarchy is very much in evidence - Arabs, then Westeners and then Indians.
Dubai is a cosmopolitan city but remember it is an Islamic coutry, please keep the hands off your partner while in public. do the kissy kissy in your hotel room. They don't like that and if you are not legally married to that partner of yours you could go to jail :o careful......By the way this is the picture of shopping area in Sharjah, no it's not a mosque :)
As always I feel that travellers visiting places like this where the culture is so differant should respect the wishes of the Country they are in. In the UAE I would advise a conservative dress code and this is to the men: Do Not Stare At the Ladies! Get into the spirit of things and share a peace pipe - consisting of dried fruit!
In the men's room at the airport there are stalls with what I'll call the Eastern style toilets and the Western style toilets. If you don't see the kind you are used to just try one of the other stalls.
Dubai is the most liberal emirate out of the seven emirates. Although you will find locals wearing traditional dresses, the expat population is pretty relaxed. Visitors are advised to dress sobre, but shorts and mini skirts are allowed. Just dont roam around in your bikini in public places.
Enjoy the process of learning cultural rules and laws before you depart for this part of the world. The life/wife you save may be your own. Really, this is a lovely place to travel to, though it does get hot and women are treated differently from in the States.
The Foundation premises are located in the city of
Abu Dhabi. The premises consist of two buildings,
one of which are located in the city center opposite the
Grand Mosque at the intersection of Airport Road and
Zayed First Street. The second building is situated
between Zayed Sports City and the Shariah Court
The Building is considered the Main Complex. It comprises of the office of the Chairman of the
Board of trustees, the Board meeting room, the office of the Secretary General and the offices of
the General Secretariat. The Complex also houses the National Library, the Institution of Culture
& Art and their respective facilities. The design of the building depicts the characteristic
features of Islamic Architecture, namely multiple arches and arcades with lofty pillars. The
building consists of three stories plus the ground floor.
You won't need much Arabic when you're in the Emirates, but you do need to read the numbers. Note that the upper row is the printed form; the lower row is handwritten. And the '0' is a raised dot. Decimal points are indicated, as in German or French, with what looks like a comma. Here they are:
Probably the best hotel I have ever stayed in. Service was amazing including your own personal...more
this is a wonderful hotel, living like royalty! 1.3 km pvt beach, beautiful gardens, massages, tea...more
We stayed here in 2004 as a change from Fujairah. I telephoned the hotel prior to our stay to...more