of United Arab Emirates
you will find a most important informations about
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 in advance.
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.