Dubai, the name has become synonymous with extravagance, oil and serious wealth, though there’s actually far more to this emirate of the United Arab Emirates, something that you’ll discover upon travelling there, though why not prepare yourself beforehand? You’ll get far more out of your trip if you do!
Culture in Dubai
Dubai has long been a melting pot of cultures, though it’s difficult to deny that the forces of globalisation which transformed the emirate from another sleepy dot on the map to one of the world’s most important business centres have been responsible for its cosmopolitan nature.
It’s the remarkably cosmopolitan and international nature of Dubai that makes it such an interesting destination and somewhere so amazingly unique that it’s safe to say there’s nowhere else like it on Earth.
Dubai is an Islamic country – don’t overlook that fact when packing clothing for your trip. However, the cosmopolitan nature of the wealthy emirate means you’re not travelling to an Islamic country along the lines of Saudi Arabia, or even Egypt or the other North African countries at the present point in time, but rather a more accepting, cosmopolitan and international destination.
Whilst some mosques are off-limits for non-Muslims – this is common throughout the Islamic world – there are a few mosques that you’ll be able to visit including the impressive Jumeirah Mosque.
Tours for this impressive example of Islamic architecture – you’ll see many more impressive examples of Islamic architecture whilst in Dubai – can be booked at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, though please dress respectfully.
Due to the cosmopolitan and international nature of Dubai you’ll find that a lot of locals dress in Western attire, though bear in mind that Dubai is still very Islamic in many regards and you should therefore dress modestly.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack your swimwear for the beach and pool but rather that you should dress modestly, not uncomfortably, but with respect for the locals, their culture and their religion, especially when visiting religious places.
Women don’t need to wear a scarf to cover their heads in public, though they should bring one with them when visiting religious sites and they should also consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and long skirts in public.
You and your travelling companions are in for a treat here! Not only will you find practically every variety of cuisine under the sun represented but the local food is fantastic and a reason in itself to pay a visit to Dubai – check out the cooking shows on popular Middle Eastern online television channels like Zee Alwan Online – though don’t forget to always accept food and eat with your right hand!
As Dubai is such a melting pot of Middle Eastern cultures, the local cuisines are what you should be focusing upon when in the emirate for business, pleasure or that inimitable combination of the two.
Here are five Middle Eastern foods not to miss out on when in Dubai.
A dish made from spiced lamb (lamb is on practically each and every menu in Dubai), rice, tomato, stew and a special local spice known as ‘loomi’, matchbous will broaden your taste-buds’ flavour appreciation spectrum.
Easily one of the most popular recipes in Dubai, ghuzi is a kebab dish, usually lamb, with rice, nuts and vegetables. This is a dish not to miss when in the emirate.
You’ve probably heard of falafel before as it’s popular the world over, particularly amongst vegetarians. However, you don’t need to have an aversion to meat to enjoy this wonderful dish made from a combination of chick peas and spices that’s deep fried until crispy.
4. Esh Asarya
Known as the ‘bread of the harem’, it isn’t difficult to see why this dish is as popular as it is, or why it was given such a name.
5. Stuffed camel
Yes, it actually exists and isn’t just another myth that someone has returned home with wonderfully tall tales of. A combination of ingredients – lamb, chicken, eggs, fish and more! – are stuffed inside a camel which is then roasted over an open fire. Wow!
Prepare yourself for the cultural experience of a lifetime in Dubai.
About the Author:
Zee Alwan online is an Arabic channel that offers exclusive and original series in addition to popular Turkish and Indian TV shows dubbed in Arabic. They are part of the Zee Entertainment Enterprise in Asia.