I have been living in the United Arab Emirates for the past 5 years and a major part of my school years I spent in the beautiful island of pearls – Bahrain. This very fact makes me always closer to the middle eastern cultural heritage because I grew up in this air and I am now raising my boy here.
Back in the school days we had Social Studies classes that also taught us the local cultural heritage. We often had visits to the Bahrain National Museum, which helped us learn a lot more about the country. A few months ago when I visited my parents in Bahrain I made sure I took my boy to the Bahrain National Museum. Though he’s too small to learn in depth, I wanted him to see the places I grew up seeing in my school days.
Moreover, having a few friends from the local community during my school days in Bahrain also made me fall in love with the Arabian Heritage. Now living in the UAE, I am yet to take my boy to the places here that will help him learn the cultural heritage of the land he’s growing up in. My friend, Tarana, has written a very informative article on her blog on the places to explore UAE’s Cultural Heritage.
In the UAE the Al Dhafra Festival is a great opportunity for us expats to learn about the heritage of this country. This festival usually takes place in the end of the year and you need to be able to drive to the desserts. Though I have heard of the festival, I have never been confident enough to go in there with my family. But after reading this guide from Keri of Babyglobetrotters – Al Dhafra Festival – 10 tips for taking kids, I feel particularly confident to keep this for this year’s bucket list.
A Few Facts about the Heritage of Bahrain and UAE
- Bahrain is known to the world as the Island of Pearls. Pearling was one of the major economic activities of the region (both of UAE and Bahrain) before the discovery of oil in the region. Most of the settlements in the region were Nomadic in nature and their main activities included fishing and pearling. The Early settlements of the UAE were the Bedouin Tribes, which meant “desert dweller”.
- Pearling is one of the major trades of the region. Bahrain is home to one of world’s finest pearls and is known to the world as the Island of Pearls.
- The Qal’at al-Bahrain (the harbour and capital of the ancient land of Dilmun) and the Bahrain Pearling Trail in Muharraq, were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2005 and 2012, respectively.
- Classified by UNESCO as ‘cultural sites’, Al Ain world heritage locations include its six oases and the archaeological sites of Bida Bint Saud, Hafeet and Hili.
- Qasr Al Hosn Festival is held in UAE annually and it gives an opportunity to learn about the heritage of the country through art, food, and music.
- The pearl and fishing industry being one of the major economic activities of the region in the past, Dhow (large wooden ships made from teak wood usually) were an integral part of their maritime fleet. Dhow building is still practised.
- Bedouin Folk music also forms an integral part of Arabian heritage. Some of the songs sung during occasions of celebration are handed down from generation to generation. Young girls dance swinging their long black hair and men enact the battles fought or represent the hunting scenes using sticks, swords and rifles.
- Due to the harsh desert climates, the traditional food of the region uses a lot of meat, cereals, and dairy. Chicken and other small fowl are commonly eaten, while camel meat is only eaten for special occasions. Camels are highly prized for their milk and transporting ability. Dates and Gahwah (traditional Arabic coffee) are also an important part of a welcome in the Emirati Hospitality traditions.
- Camel racing and Falconry are part of the traditional sports that are still practiced.
- If you would like to experience a bit of the old Dubai (and the traditional Arabian culture), a visit to the Bur Dubai side of the Dubai Creek is totally worth it. Ishita gives a beautiful account on her blog about taking a walk around the Al Bastakiya (the historical neighbourhood that dates back to the 1890s), the Al Fahidi Fort, and The Old Souqs etc.
These are just a few facts picked from the Heritage of UAE and Bahrain, two countries I love deeply. I grew up in one and I am raising my boy in the other. I want him to grow up loving and learning the heritage and culture of all the places we visit and live. Do share with us the interesting facts about the places you live in, in the comments below
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- A Few Facts About The Heritage of Bahrain and The UAE - August 19, 2016