Tourism

Dubai culture myths busted

Zoe Samios

As part of Dubai Tourism’s stand at ATM 2015, The Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is breaking down cultural barriers. Working under the banner Open Doors. Open Minds, the non-for-profit centre is helping buyers understand a little bit more about the locals at the Middle East destination.

We got a chance to listen in, and found there’s a lot more to Dubai than meets the eye.

Will Emiratis be insulted by Westernised attire?

More often than not, they will not be offended. There’s a lot of confusion around what to wear and what not to wear when entering Dubai. The answer is simple – ‘everything goes.’ While there are areas that ask for appropriate and respectful clothing attire, it is more the fact there these places are family areas, rather than a cultural issue. Men and women are more than happy to see you walking down the street as you wish.

Why does everyone in Dubai own fancy cars?

The real question is, does anyone know how cheap it is to rent a fancy car in Dubai? Most Emiratis will rent a Lamborghini or a Porsche and drive around in front of their friends for the day before returning it home.

Do Emiratis have many wives?

For the most part no, it is no longer part of their culture to have more than one wife. 94% of Emiratis are in monogamous relationships.

Why do Emiratis wear black and white?

The story behind their dress is a lot simpler than we thought. The Emiratis cultural attire serves as an equaliser in society, making sure no one is superior to another individual. Women have been wearing black since the 1950s, the Abayas originating from Iran. Men weren’t wearing white until the 1980s-90s, the white cotton fabric originating from Japan. The attire is only for public places, many will take their outer dress off when entering places of close family and friends.

Better still, Emiratis have no problem with foreigners wearing this attire. They encourage visitors and expats to wear the attire. Traditional abayas can be bought at the old souks for Emirati prices usually costing between 200-400AED.

What about the black rope over the mens heads?

The black rope, shaped like an infinity symbol, was once used to tie camel’s feet. A man flicked one on his head tired of holding it, and now it is simply a fashion statement.

Fast Fact:

Emiratis do not wear wedding bands.

The Sheik Mohammend Centre for Culture Understanding takes questions, tour bookings or other activities via http://www.cultures.ae/index.php.


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