Dear Ali: Can you tell me what Emirati cuisine is suitable for a wedding, and whether it is something I can prepare myself or should order? NA, Dubai
Dear NA: You can read about some of our traditional local dishes on my portal, www.ask-ali.com/culture/uae-cuisine.html. Another good source of information is the recently released cookery book by the Emirati chef Khulood Atiqis, Sarareed: An Emirati Cuisine Cookbook, that you will find in all major bookshops.
Emirati restaurants in Dubai that I can recommend are Al Marhabani on Jumeirah Road or the Local House in Bastakiya. But most of our traditional wedding dishes are prepared and made by what we refer to as "kitchens", which are restaurants that specialise in cooking takeaway meals for a large number of people. Customers come to pick up dishes for 20, 200 or sometimes even 2,000 or more people.
Dear Ali: Can you explain the Islamic view of charity, philanthropy and zakat? Is philanthropy of the kind shown by, say, Bill Gates, popular among rich Muslims? TA, Dubai
Dear TA: Zakat is one of the obligations all Muslims who have the financial means must fulfil, with 2.5 per cent of one's wealth given annually to charity. One's wealth comprises financial holdings, savings and possessions such as jewellery that are not needed for covering life's normal daily expenses.
Our society is based very much on tribal traditions and so caring for those in need is a social responsibility. One tradition is that we shall care for our neighbours in seven directions. Of course, in modern skyscrapers or villa compounds, neighbours sadly might not even know one other. Still, the traditional Bedouin within us will share his last bread and water with one who is in need.
How and to whom a Muslim will give zakat is a personal choice. The funds could go to a charitable organisation such as the Red Crescent, or to mosques and mosque centres, which support the needy. Last but not least, we can and do often give to people we know, those in our extended family who need financial or material support.
As only those who really have more than they need for themselves are required to give zakat, rich Muslims commonly donate parts of their wealth for social and common purposes. It is part of our culture not to make a big thing about this.
Our beloved leader and father, Sheikh Zayed, set the path that our Rulers follow, to make, for instance, all medical care and education free for all Emiratis. The UAE also sends much humanitarian aid abroad.
Dear Ali: I will arrive in the UAE to teach in August. Will I be able to watch English and Spanish football on satellite TV? SH, UK
Dear SH: Yes, you will be able to watch your favourite shows and games in the Emirates. Premier League games are on Abu Dhabi Sport channels (www.admcsport.com) and Spanish League games are on Al Jazeera Sport channels (www.aljazeera.com/sport). Both regional networks provide English content for the games.
International channels that provide Spanish or English content can be bought as part of a cable/satellite TV package from either of our two telecommunication companies. And almost all of the major coffee shops, restaurants and bar lounges provide these channels for their customers.
Kathab means liar in Arabic, but in our Emirati dialect we say chathab (for female usage, chathabah).