Mall visitors are being given a break from retail therapy to learn about traditional Emirati life at a new exhibition.
Emirati culture on exhibit at Dubai Mall
DUBAI //Mall visitors are being given a break from retail therapy to learn about traditional Emirati life at a new exhibition.
Displays are arranged around an area set up to resemble an old-style village, complete with barasti homes, at the Dubai Mall.
Two animatronic camels provide a centrepiece, and shoppers and tourists can find out about falconry, dhow building, basket weaving, henna and many other aspects of Emirati culture. UAE produce and products such as dates, spices and perfumes are on display.
There are also activities for children, including drawing sessions, dancing and a chance to make a burqa, the gold-coloured mask traditionally worn by Emirati women.
Min Bladi Al Emarat - Arabic for My UAE, My Heritage - is being staged by the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment and consists of two parts: the exhibition, which opened on Sunday at the mall's Star Atrium, and a three-day shayla and abaya fashion show at the end of the month.
The henna stall is proving particularly popular, according to organiser Nadine Manning.
"The lady was mobbed on the first day because everybody wanted henna, she ran out of dye. And it wasn't just tourists and people who were shopping who were coming in to get henna, there were local ladies too," she said
"The idea of the exhibition is to provide those who are not Emirati with a little bit of education, to give people information about the culture and heritage.
"At the weekend we'll have competitions for local food. Ladies will bring their food to the mall and judges will taste it, and there'll be abaya designing competitions and things like that with the local community."
A team from the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is on hand to answer questions.
A volunteer, Moza Obaid bin Dhalam, said: "All the people are coming and I think they are learning a lot of new things, which is good. We are providing information about our traditions and culture.
"People ask what kinds of dates we have and about our spices and perfumes. They ask about how we were living before and how we accepted a new life after the emirates improved - we are trying to cover all these questions."
Rainer Schepers, a tourist from Germany on a two-week visit to Dubai, welcomed the chance to find out about falconry and other aspects of Emirati culture.
"Before I came I read a little bit about Dubai so I expected to see this sort of thing, it's interesting for me," he said.
The exhibition continues until July 26, and the shayla and abaya event will run from July 27 to 29 at the mall's fashion catwalk.