Abu Dhabi – A City to experience UAE Culture and Traditions
Abu Dhabi culture and traditions been well known for their history, is one of the only countries in the world which keeps their history of their forefathers still alive and active. UAE Culture and Traditions has been highly respected & practiced. UAE Locals spread their culture and traditions as an experience to expose and feel to the entire globe and everyday tourists who enter the country witness this lifestyle of UAE history. While growing at a faster pace in technology and developments, they do not forget from where they all started thus they cherish their traditions and culture as the treasure behind this enormous success in a very short spam. Also checkout our recent article about ultimate things to do in Abu Dhabi
Dubai is always the first choice for any traveller or tourist when the travel plan enters the Middle East or UAE. Abu Dhabi is the Golden City of Peace and Culture. Dubai has the traditions and culture always in their life and tourists can experience it via Abra boats, the heritage forts, Tanoura Dance and Museums. But if you would really want to get the exact feel and live the exact life and go beyond the norms of knowing the history in understanding the real aspects of the UAE’s culture and traditions, then Abu Dhabi is the right choice for it.
Not only the UAE culture, it widens to a knowledge given to of an entire Middle East and all Islamic countries. If you really want to get the ambiance and twirl with the Bedouins, Pearls, Camels, Desert and Farm in-depth exposure along with traditions and Culture then Abu Dhabi is the best city for you.
The Emiratis Culture is a life of a Bedouin. This is compared to a sea of fascinating, mind blowing and ever-dashing traditions, crafts, camels, horses, falcons, camps, food, farms and deserts. Bedouins were the masters in fighting the survival of the extreme desert conditions. Today Abu Dhabi creates this Heritage insights as a cultural attraction to all the global tourists to feel this as a once in a life time inspiration.
While we have many in UAE’s traditions and culture, let’s discuss the few of the main traditions and Culture Abu Dhabi is known for as the following ten on the top list.
- Al Sadu
- Camel Racing
- Arabian Horses
- Ayala Dancing
- Coffee and Dates
- Henna Painting
Al Sadu weaving
Al Sadu is a traditional weaving method which was used by the women of UAE in olden days. This is still practiced among the communities do produce colorful clothing, decorations for camels and horses, pillows, carpets, mats and many for all those interiors found in a Bedouin camp or tent. This was a tradition to master the skills of the women of that time and thus wool became their passion and hobby. They usually chat in groups and engage themselves in family bonds while spinning and weaving. The speciality of Al Sadu is that women of younger age learnt this skill by just watching it. It works in a unique form where the yarn or wool thread will be spun on a drop spindle or a big needle then coloured using henna and saffron and weaved on the floor for the final output.
Today these are purchased by tourists as souvenirs and gifts. You can still experience this ambience of Al Sadu weaving and their products at the Sougha Shop at the Abu Dhabi Central Market souk connected the World Trade Center Souk and Mall and the Khalifa Bridge. These products sold are created by local artisans using authentic traditional methods.
Falconry is a traditional skilled Emirati sport being there with them for many generations of years. This sport requires a lot of patience meanwhile the co-operation of the Falcon too. It’s a give and take policy between the player and the Falcon by showing kindness to the Falcon to get the performance as the best in style. It’s known to be the Arab Heritage with various techniques and breeding forms to train them.
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is the best place to get the actual exposure to the falcons where they have a falcon hospital, along with the experienced Falconers, an in detail knowledge sharing base of Falcons and Falconry and a memorable photo opportunity.
This is a spectacular sport until today to watch and to see a group of camels galloping together fiercely on the tracks fighting for their race victory. This is only available in Abu Dhabi and millions of people around the global come to visit this race every year. They do have races every month too and the best place to visit for this experience is the Al Wathba Camel Race Track in Al Ain which is a small drive from Abu Dhabi city.
The entrance is free but make sure you call them and check on 02 583 9200 before you visit or seek help from you hotel concierge to know the event agenda and calendar as they update and change plans without any prior notice.
Middle East means only camels come into our minds. But Abu Dhabi hosts the wonderful and ever beauty, talented and intelligent Arabian horses too as a part of their culture and traditions. It’s a gigantic significance of the heritage and Abu Dhabi has got the best of equestrian talents and expert jockeys.
The Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club is the best place for this as during winter seasons you can experience free spectacular races on the race course and also it gives opportunity for each and every tourist to experience horse rides, training courses and international events at reasonable prices.
This may be a new name to many. It was surprising for me too at first, but actually Bedouins’ favourite hunting partners were Salukis. Salukis are a breed of dog used for hunting and still popular among the local Emiratis. They speed almost faster than a vehicle and is the best friend of a Falcon. While Falcons spot the prey, the salukis get hold of the prey and make the master hunter happy.
Rub al Khali is the famous hunting ground and house of Salukis desert playground. Don’t miss this as you can go on a visit to the Saluki Centre behind the Abu Dhabi Airport which gives you a unique experience of Salukis hunting, training, breeding and all information which is not known by most modern generations.
Ayala Dancing is one of the traditional folk dancing using a stick or cane. Modern society calls this as the tribal stick dance. This is a very wonderful sight to watch as the performers show unity and togetherness while they perform the dance twisting the sticks to the beats of the drums. This could be experienced in videos, traditional parties, wedding, ceremonies and cultural locations and also at top events in malls.
Coffee and Dates
This is a standard culture and tradition in all Middle Eastern Arab countries. But in UAE they serve Arabic coffee in mini cups without the handle with the traditional word “Ghahwa” and this comes with cardamom and saffron. As same as Saudi, UAE too is famous for dates as the varieties available in UAE is not there anywhere else. From seedless to chocolate mix to butter to any magic form of dates are sold. Bateel is a famous spot to buy dates. Bateel stores offer premium dates with good quality at best prices.
Liwa Date Festival is famous in Abu Dhabi which is held annually during July where the local date palms will be auctioned and served. This is the best moment for anyone to enjoy the date culture very close seeing the authentic Emirati Farm traditions. Some dates are sold at more than 1500 USD per kilo in this exhibition as it is so fresh.
This is famous in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi while you can get to experience it in desert safaris or heritage villages. This is a form of painless temporary tattoos using the henna tree leaves made into a paste.
Henna is popular among most women tourists who get them down painted in various forms from floras to other designs on palm, hands, back, and legs. Today this Henna culture from the old tradition is a modern tradition among western countries and most Asian countries during weddings, festivals and celebrations.
This is a Bedouin form of art based on the power of persuading. More than of just only an art, it became a standard of linguistics where a lot of poems, creative writing, praises and quotes were written in this form. Today this is very much less in modern digital technological printing but still famous among the rural areas of UAE who still follow this art. You can find this Tahgrouda art work in weddings, museums and some local villas. Nowadays this is used in Abu Dhabi as equestrian taghrouda which tends to increase the speed of the horses identifying it’s bravery. A lost art but still treasured as history and respected as a traditional culture.
Last but not least the Majlis is our discussion. I am very much sure no one has missed this opportunity but may be the term Majlis was not used as this word Majlis is usually famous for VIP seating and VIP lounges in hotels, airports and resorts. Majlis is simply a meeting place with tents and the traditional sitting down with red mixed floor sofas and cushions with warm hospitality.
This was done usually at that time of history to greet the people and conduct business matters sitting in this ambience. Today it’s a tradition to be experienced where you can find it in deserts, desert camps, desert safaris, tents, dancing arena like for belly dance and Tanuora and any gatherings. Just a tip the greetings or shaking hands is only between the same sex and not the opposite sex. Now a days this Majlis setup is use as a trend in Abu Dhabi for Private Romantic Desert Dinners.
I am sure that I had tried to share some of the best traditions and culture which you should not miss on your next journey or vacation. These are so unique and we are thankful for this country UAE for still keeping these in place underrated and Abu Dhabi city for giving us an opportunity to experience this heritage history feeling.
Check out our new First-Timer’s Abu Dhabi Travel Guide