of United Arab Emirates
you will find a most important informations about UAE's
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
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 ahaya'.
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 spectator
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.
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.