x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Ask Ali: What's in a name when it comes to family ties?

Ali Al Saloom offers tips and advice for living and working in the UAE.

Dear Ali: Why are "Bin" and "Al" in Emirati names? What is the meaning? Can you use "Bin" as a family name or must it be "Al"? MA, Dubai

Dear MA: Good observation. "Al" is used to indicate the family that the person comes from. "Bin" means "son of".

The names that come before the family name all belong to the family or tribe denoted by the family name.

For example, my name is Ali Abdulkaraim Ali Salem Al Saloom. I am son of Abdulkaraim (my father), who is son of Ali (my grandfather), and so on. All of us come from a tribe called "Al Saloom".

"Bin" would mainly be followed by a first name, such as Adulkaraim, instead of a family name, such as Al Saloom.

"Bin" refers to whom the person is a "son of" more than a family name, even though there are many big and well known families that have "Bin" as part of their last name as well.

So, yes, you may sometimes use "Bin" in a family name, but only when it happens to include the word "Bin", not to denote "son of".

I know a few expat friends whose last name is Carpenter and, when we mention their name to others, we say: "Hey, where are the Carpenters?" In Arabic, that would be "Al Carpenter".


Dear Ali: What would you recommend we do this summer as a family during our vacation? I prefer water sport activities. HG, Abu Dhabi

Dear HG: Summer vacation in the UAE will always be one to remember if you are able to plan it well and ahead of time. First, I would remind you that in a couple of weeks the holy month of Ramadan will visit us and our summer will be mainly spiritual, therefore there will be a great number of cultural events taking place in the country. It will be a really unique experience: to decide what to visit and also which restaurant to visit for a great iftar meal. Not to forget that shopping will also be good during summer due to the discounts deals in that period.

In terms of other fun and sports activities, I would recommend you check out the latest Saadiyat Island public beach, as it is a wonderful place for swimming and to enjoy a beautiful natural white sand beach. Also, the recently opened Yas Waterworld is really worth experiencing, especially during the hot season. Or visit the lovely Yas Marina Circuit, and Yas Links, which, even though it is a golf club, is very family friendly.

If you like galleries, stop by the Manarat Al Saadiyat exhibition, as everyone I recommend to go there always comes back with great feedback.

You should also spend some time at the Al Bateen Beach on Abu Dhabi Island. For a minimal fee you can experience one of the most beautiful new beaches in the capital and it is very family orientated.

Another good option during the summer is the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club at The Breakwater. They offer different type of sports, such as sailing lessons, kayaking and diving, which is always a lovely experience in our waters. If you don't mind travelling, you may also experience deep-water diving in the UAE by visiting Fujairah.

Lastly, why not visit Al Ain Zoo during the evening? They have many great activities, such as the night tours, and my favourite, the bird show. The zoo has an amazing range of endangered animals and birds.


Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow //www.ask-ali.com">www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question and to find his guidebooks to the UAE, priced at Dh50