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.


What We Are Reading Today: The Way of Nature by C. C. Tsai

Updated 18 June 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Way of Nature by C. C. Tsai

  • The Way of Nature brings together all of Tsai’s beguiling cartoon illustrations of the Zhuangzi

C. C. Tsai is one of Asia’s most popular cartoonists, and his editions of the Chinese classics have sold more than 40 million copies in over 20 languages. This volume presents Tsai’s delightful graphic adaptation of the profound and humorous Daoist writings of Zhuangzi, some of the most popular and influential in the history of Asian philosophy and culture.

The Way of Nature brings together all of Tsai’s beguiling cartoon illustrations of the Zhuangzi, which takes its name from its author. The result is a uniquely accessible and entertaining adaptation of a pillar of classical Daoism, which has deeply influenced Chinese poetry, landscape painting, martial arts, and Chan (Zen) Buddhism.

The Way of Nature presents the memorable characters, fables, and thought experiments of Zhuangzi like no other edition, challenging readers to dig beneath conventional assumptions about self, society, and nature, and pointing to a more natural way of life. Through practical insights, Zhuangzi shows why returning to the spontaneity of nature is the only sane response to a world of conflict.