Curious foreigners get rare chance to sample Emirati culture

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Rashid Al Tamimi, a Senior Cultural Presenter, talks to the foreign visitors and residents in the UAE about Ramadan and Emirati culture during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, at the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in Dubai, UAE. (Reuters)
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Foreign visitors and residents in the UAE learn about Ramadan and Emirati culture during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan at Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai, UAE. (Reuters)
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Japanese tourists talk to an Emirati woman volunteer to learn about Ramadan and Emirati culture during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, at the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in Dubai, UAE. (Reuters)
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Foreign visitors and residents in the UAE eat an Emirati Iftar meal during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, at Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in Dubai, UAE. (Reuters)
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Foreign visitors and residents in the UAE eat an Emirati Iftar meal during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, at Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in Dubai, UAE. (Reuters)
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Rashid Al Tamimi, a Senior Cultural Presenter, talks to the foreign visitors and residents in the UAE about Ramadan and Emirati culture during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, at the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in Dubai, UAE. (Reuters)
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An Emirati woman volunteer helps a foreign visitor to wear a headscarf during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, at Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai, UAE. (Reuters)
Updated 19 May 2019
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Curious foreigners get rare chance to sample Emirati culture

DUBAI: No question was off limits for curious tourists and foreign residents of Dubai wanting to learn more about Emirati culture and the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Emiratis make up less than 10% of those living in Dubai, the most populated emirate in the seven-emirate United Arab Emirates federation, making it hard for foreigners to meet them.
Dubai goes to great lengths to market itself as open to different cultures and faiths as the Middle East’s financial, trade and leisure center, and a government cultural center is inviting visitors to find out more about Emirati life.
“There are no offending questions,” said Emirati Rashid Al-Tamimi from the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding.
“How do you worship, what is the mosque, why do you wear white, why do women wear black ... is everybody rich in this country?“
Emirati volunteers gathered at a majlis — the traditional sitting room where the end-of-fast iftar meal is served at floor-level — were asked about dating and marriage, what they think of Dubai’s comparatively liberal dress codes for foreigners, and aspects of the Muslim faith.
“We learn from them, they learn from us. (Foreigners) have been here a long time and I feel they see themselves as Emiratis, and we are proud that they do so,” said Majida Al-Gharib a student volunteer.
Visitors broke the day’s fast with dates and water, before sampling Emirati cuisine, including biryani and machboos rice and meat dishes.
Seven-year-old Anthony from Poland, who goes to school in Dubai, said he came to find out more about the breaking of the fast meal because many of his friends at school do it.
2019 has been designated the Year of Tolerance in the United Arab Emirates and there is a minister of state for tolerance.


‘I love the Arab side of my family’: Bella Hadid apologizes to Saudi, UAE fans after online backlash

US-Palestinian model Bella Hadid has taken to Instagram to apologize to her fans in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 59 min 8 sec ago
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‘I love the Arab side of my family’: Bella Hadid apologizes to Saudi, UAE fans after online backlash

DUBAI: US-Palestinian model Bella Hadid has taken to Twitter and Instagram to apologize to her fans in Saudi Arabia and the UAE after she was accused of being disrespectful by social media users.

It all kicked off when the 22-year-old supermodel uploaded a photo to her Instagram Stories on Monday, showing her boot pictured in front of an Emirates plane and a Saudia plane.

The hashtag #BellaHadidIsRacist started trending as some social media users felt the model was being disrespectful, but she quickly took to the Internet to set the record straight, saying “this was an honest mistake on an early morning” in a tweet.

 “I am posting this to clear up a few things that have been weighing on my heart,” Hadid wrote on her Instagram Stories Monday. “To begin, I would never want my posts or platform to be used for hate against anyone, especially those of my own beautiful and powerful heritage. I love and care so much about the Muslim and Arab side of my family, as well as my brothers and sisters throughout the world.”

Bella went on to address the photo, saying: “The photo of my shoe on my Story yesterday had NOTHING to do with politics. I promise. I never noticed the planes in the background and that is the truth. I would never mean to disrespect these airlines, let alone these amazing countries. I absolutely love these airlines, with the best planes and people (sic).” 

“I will be more responsible when bringing awareness to all causes, including my beloved Middle Eastern community. Thank you for taking the time. I love every single one of you,” she added.