UAE Culture and Traditions
Abu Dhabi's captivating history is a grand tale of endurance and perseverance, woven with threads of Bedouin resilience and the city's impressive transformation. This rich tapestry of culture and tradition is an integral part of the UAE’s identity. And while Emiratis have been the driving force behind the country’s development, the country’s fauna - from majestic horses and camels to the fleet-footed Salukis and skilled falcons - have also played a significant role in shaping Abu Dhabi's cultural heritage. With a diverse range of cultural and heritage tours and experiences on offer, you can delve deeper into the Emirati culture and traditions. Whether you're a solo adventurer, a family, friends, or a large group, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience.
The UAE’s deep culture is reflected in its diverse art scene. The country’s appreciation for art is demonstrated through its poetic language, vibrant colours of traditional artwork, distinct gestures, and the passion of its people. From the intricate designs of the Arabic henna that resemble good luck and prosperity in marriages to the unique art of weaving, known as Sadu, listed under UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the UAE beams with authentic creativity. Home to a range of performing arts too, like its emotive poetry and energetic traditional dance called “Al Ayala”, the UAE’s culture is a fascinating blend of old and new, reflecting the country's rich history and its modern, cosmopolitan spirit.
The local cuisine is a reflection of the UAE’s history and geography. It’s a rich blend of different cultures and influences from neighbouring countries such as Iran and India. Historically, the local diet was centered around the Bedouin nomadic lifestyle, with staples including dates, milk and meat from camels and other available livestock. The UAE was known for its pearl diving and fishing communities, influencing the seafood aspect of its cuisine. And as trade flourished, so did the Emirati cuisine. Imports of rice and spices like saffron, turmeric and cinnamon have brought to life popular traditional dishes such as machboos (spiced rice with meat or seafood) and harees (a porridge-like dish made from wheat and meat).
Considering the nature of the Bedouins lifestyle, sports played a key role in both the survival and recreation of Emiratis. Falconry, and racing horses, camels, salukis and dhows are just some of the traditional sports in the UAE that have deep cultural and historical roots. Falconry, the art of training and hunting with falcons, has been a popular pastime in the UAE for centuries, and remains a popular activity among many Emiratis today. These traditional sports not only provide entertainment, but also play an important role in preserving and promoting the rich culture and history of the UAE.
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Frequently asked questions about culture in Abu Dhabi
What is the importance of UAE culture? / What kind of culture does the UAE have?
The UAE has a rich heritage dating back centuries that reflects Islamic and Arab values. Itis an important foundation for the Emirati local and it ranges across food, sports, art and social life. Learn more about it.
How many cultures are in the UAE?
The UAE is home to over 200 nationalities, creating a diverse, multicultural society that peacefully co-exist together.
How has UAE culture changed?
While the influx of foreign nationalities and technological developments have brought change, the UAE maintains a strong cultural foundation that they are proud of even today.