Understanding the Emirati culture at SMCCU

We recently finished Eid Al Adha*, which is a big celebration for muslims.

*”Also called the “Festival of Sacrifice“, is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year (the other being Eid al-Fitr), and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God’s command. But, before Ibraham could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this, an animal is sacrificed and divided into three parts: one third of the share is given to the poor and needy; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is retained by the family.”

Understanding the festivities of muslim people brings you to understand they culture.
I had the opportunity to visit and have an Emirati lunch at Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding SMCCU .

The beautiful place is located in one of my favourite areas, Al Fahidi neighbourhood in Bur Dubai. The whole area is a recreation of an old Emirati village by the Creek. But this little museum bring you to the heart of the old Emirati houses.

We started the journey inside the house in the majilis or gathering space where we were all seating in the floor, as they normally do when they gather with the family and friends.

Ms. Fathayah, a young and lovely Emirati woman walked us through the secrets of the Emirati culture starting with the coffee traditions.

It’s a lovely Arabic custom, sitting with friends and family in the evening, and over several tiny cups of steaming coffee poured from a dallah,  discussing the day’s events. It is a custom that has, for several centuries, enabled conversations within a community, with family and people from the neighbourhood. Traditionally, and even today, it’s a sign of enduring Arabic hospitality, to invite people to come sit and chat, possibly munch on dates, and have a cup or two – no one’s counting. That’s the beauty of sitting in the majlis and sipping gahwa. It’s kept Emiratis together.

Cardamom, cumin, cloves, saffron are also added to add another dimension to the already exquisite taste of fresh coffee. After preparing the coffee, it is served in small cups to the guests. The person serving the coffee to the guests or family members (muqahwi) must be a mature one, at least 15 years and above and not a child so he’s able to speak well with the guests and not risk spilling coffee onto the clothes of guests as he serves them. “The muqahwi should hold the dallah in his left hand and about three small cups with no handle on the right,” he said.

“He should serve the coffee starting from the person sitting on the right of the majlis and should not skip anyone. If there is a very important person in the majlis, like a Sheikh or a religious scholar, he should be served first. The muqahwi should then serve others starting with the person on his right.” After drinking, the guest gently shakes the small cup to show the muqahwi that he’s done. The muqahwi always remains standing until all guests have finished drinking the coffee. And it is prohibited to serve coffee while people are eating food. (More)

She explained us about the Emirati clothing.

Man wears Kandura, a long white cloak. The color of the garment originates from Bedouin culture, as it is perfect to reflect the sun’s rays. Browns and grays are also worn more in the winter months. It is common for Emirati men to own over 50 Kanduras and to change them throughout the day, in order to keep their look crease-free and fresh.

Men also wear the Guthra, a headscarf. The most common colors are white or white and red checks. The Guthra is also an item originating in Bedouin culture, as it protected men against the sand of the desert. The Guthra can be worn in different ways to indicate status and importance.

Women in the UAE traditionally wear the Abaya. This is a long flowing black gown and can be plain or decorated with impressive designs. It is worn as a sign of modesty. However, it’s common for women to wear completely Western outfits under their Abayas.

Women also wear a headscarf called the Shela, to cover their hair. This is normally black and made of very light material. Many women opt for designer scarves, such as Givenchy or Dior, which can even be matched to their handbags. For more traditional women, the Gishwa is an option. This black veil covers the entire face; it is thin enough to see out of, although nobody can see their faces. A third option is the Burqa, which only shows the eyes. Together these women’s garments are known as the Hijab, which essentially means head covering.

While taking with Fathayah we starting eating the traditional #food !
By the way she is very open, and you can ask her anything (curiosity) that you have

Emiratis, as most of the muslims eat seated in the floor and with the right hand.
We had some delicious food:

Chicken biryani: lavoured rice with lot of meat or egg or vegetables. The main ingredients of biryani are rice, spices, herbs, vegetables and non vegetarian products.

Veal Machboos: is a very popular dish cooked in a large pot. It consists of rice, onions and meat, seasoned with spices, salt and dried lemon. This dish is prepared by cooking meat, spices, dried lemon, and seasonings in boiling water until they are very tender. The meat is taken out and the rice is added to the rest of the ingredients and cooked together.

Vegetable OR chicken salona  it’s a slow cooked stew, mixed with a lot of vegetables and spices. In that case was vegetarian but chicken is as well very popular.

Lugaimat: (I think I was waiting the whole day only to eat Lugaimat!) Crunchy on the outside, soft and airy in the middle, luqaimat are often dipped in date syrup and served garnished with sesame seeds. An Arabic word that literally means ‘bite-sized’, it is a traditional dessert popular amongst ancient Bedouins for its ease of preparation; the luqaimat is a firm favourite at Iftar experiences during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

We spoke about history, about traditions, about the importance of their leaders and how the system works in United Arab Emirates.

Was a lovely morning that brought me near to the culture of the country that I call home for the last 4 years and of which I’m so grateful and happy to be!

We could as well try their traditional cloths, here I share with you a nice picture of me with Abaya and Shela!
I highly recommend you to visit the center and walk through the old Dubai.

World Art Dubai 2018

Bringing Affordable Art to The Middle East

The stage for the fourth edition of World Art Dubai has been set as the fair expands and grows, underlining the message that there is growing demand for affordable, contemporary art in the Middle East.

Spanning across 6,000 sqm of inspiring exhibition space, the fourth edition included new segments like photography and digital art, as well as dedicated spaces for galleries, solo artists and groups representing a display of art & culture from all over the world.

Part of Dubai’s Official Art Season, the fair took place from 18–21 April at Dubai World Trade Centre and showcases an impressive global collection of contemporary paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs and mixedmedia ranging from $100 to $20,000.

I visited the fair on the last day and great that I did it because there was a lot of talented artists! I found amazing pieces that really inspired and transported me to other dimensions.

Here I’m sharing with you some of them:

Art as a multi sensory experience by Alex Raspberry and Silent Revolution Mia.

Alex Raspberry is painter from Miami but based in Dubai that plays with geometrical forms and abstract designs creating a very unique style.

He mixed his paints with the music of the Miami Music Curator DJ Mikel, owner of the Silent Revolution.

Was a space where you could experience Art through different senses.
The paintings were inspired by the music and viceversa creating 3 different walls.
I had to put a headphones and listen to the music designed for each piece while enjoying the paintings that were changing as there was a game of lights and colours.

The music made me disappear from where I was to get into the paints and enjoy the moment. It was an amazing experience, a great new way to enjoy art.


 Design by Mariska. Turning waste into something beautiful.

This great artist turns waste into Art, creating beautiful lamps and paints.
She Recently started a campaign to fight against the plastic so she was wearing for 30 consecutive days a jacket made by plastic waste.

I actually saw her in D3 couple of weeks before and I was so happy to see her again and understand what is she really doing.

Thanks for being part of the consciousness of recycling and being social responsible.


There was an impressive woman that was only painting woman faces, but all of them were very strong and powerful.Here I’m sharing my favourite piece that was as well nominated.


There was as well a lot of workshops, and Ripe Market has a spot outside the center where you could buy hand craft products and have a little bite in the food trucks.Overall the ambience was really nice, mixed culture of Artists from around the world and great live music.If you missed it… put it in your To Do List for 2019!To finish with this post I share some other beautiful pieces I saw in the exhibition.

Basic Spanish Traditions

I’m Spanish and I’ve been living in Dubai for the last 4 years, and only this last Christmas I went back home to celebrate this important time of the year for us with my family.

Time flies when you are living and working abroad.
We forget about our traditions and lifestyle of our home country.

I wanted to share some of our traditions that are quite similar to the Arabic:

  1. We normally have a family gathering on Sundays where we cook and spend time together. It’s tradition to eat Paella on that day, but it depends on the region you are from.  For us, it’s very important to share food with our loved ones as it’s an important part of our culture.

    For the most religious families it is a must to go to Sunday’s prayers before lunch time.

  2. We like to dine together, normally the mother decides on the meal times in the house and we all have to be punctual.

    That means we spend a lot of time in the kitchen with our mum, learning how to cook and having fun and wonderful moments!

  3. A normal family, even a wealthy one will teach the kids to clear and clean all the plates and kitchen utensils as we believe every person should be able to be independent and know the basics of cooking, doing the laundry…etc.

    If you fall in love with a Spanish man, you might be lucky! He’ll probably know how to cook and clean!

  4. We have a strong relationship with our grandparents, we call and visit them as much as we can and we celebrate together birthdays, Christmas, Easter and any special celebrations.

    The Spanish have always something to celebrate!

  5. Our weekend starts on Thursday’s! We like to have a drink with our friends on that day, specially in big cities like Madrid or Barcelona where Thursday’s are the University nights! People goes out to have some beer and tapas.
  6. Our eating times are later than in the rest of Europe, we eat around 2 or 3pm and we have dinner around 9 or 10pm, we love having a “merienda” around 5pm, which is a small snack.

    I remember eating amazing fresh bread toast with Nutella… and as well going to the bakery and buy fresh pastries!

  7. In our tradition we normally do “siesta” which means “nap time”, this is because originally all shops used to open in split shift closing between 1pm till 5pm, so all families could have lunch together and have a little rest.

    This tradition however is not happening like before, specially in the big cities where shops are open 24 hours now!

    I never liked “siesta” but most of my family and friends does!

  8. We always say hello to each other giving two kiss (one in each cheek).
    This tradition can be a bit weird if you are come from another country.

    Only in a professional level we will keep the distance until the older person will decide to have a closer contact.

  9. Birthday’s are a very important celebration of the year, and we celebrate it for few days, first with our families and then with our friends!

    I personally love my birthday, and I like to celebrate it with all the people that I love. My father always calls me more than 5 times to wish me Happy Birthday! Of course I give all the leadership to my Mum as she was the one that made it happen!

  10. In general we don’t have sense of being strictly punctual.
    In Spain it’s accepted that people arrives a bit later to social parties or appointments.

    I personally don’t do that as I like to be on time, but if you go to Spain keep it in mind!

This are only the basic traditions tips, but we have much more traditions in each celebration, I’ll talk about it later.

I hope you like my post and that will be helpful for you to understand better Spanish culture!

Sikka Art Fair 2018

This beautiful fair, takes place every year in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood in the heart of Bur Dubai, Old city side by the Creek.

Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum‪,‬Vice Chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, the contemporary, artist-led fair provides a platform for emerging UAE-based and GCC talents‪, in‬ a vibrant 10‪-‬day programme featuring exciting exhibitions, art installations, workshops, film, and music‪.‬

SIKKA complements the city-wide activation of cultural events that takes place during the fifth edition of Dubai Art Season, which runs throughout March and April 2018 and feature events such as the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Art Dubai, DIFC Art Nights and the Middle East Film & Comic Con, among hundreds of other initiatives.

I visited Sikka twice, as it’s big and requires attention if you really want to enjoy an understand the artists.

I will mention 2 of my favourite spots but I truly enjoyed the whole fair.

  1. Tamashee Saudi House.

    Tamashee, is a high-end Arabian Gulf footwear brand based in Dubai. The brand began as a set of social goals which are now the core values for all of its work.

     

    They setup a beautiful house representing a journey of different forms of contemporary art in Saudi Arabia.
    From beautiful paints to photography and live art, the whole exhibition was in harmony with their brand and colours as their products have been inspired by research of cultural designs and patterns. Tamashee carefully studies the history, form, and function of each cultural design and revives certain key elements of the past through its products.

     


  2. Mawaheb Art Studio

    Mawaheb from Beautiful People is a Dubai-based art studio for adults with special needs, now known as ‘the determined ones’ following a directive by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubais).

    The students from 16 years and above bring out the best of their creativity and create beautiful pieces of art full of meaning and imagination!

    They prepared an amazing exhibition for Sikka called: Life is Beautiful !
    All the paints and sculptures had strong messages of #strength, #happiness, #freedom, #art and #culture.
    You could find small little sculpture persons all around the neigbourhood inviting you to discover them in their house!

    I’m sharing with you some of their paints, but if you really want to visit them you can do it on Weekdays from 9am to 2pm and have a great coffee from the hand of the students! Follow them in Instagram ! @mawahebdubai  

As you can see, life is beautiful and more when is full of

COLORS, ART AND FUN !