The UAE has a rich culture firmly rooted in Islamic and Arabic values.
Evidence suggests that the country’s history dates back to ancient times, with early settlers engaging in trade and even had architectural capabilities considered ahead of its time.
Fast forward to the present and the UAE has become a symbol of progress and modernity.
However, there are a plenty of ways for residents and tourists to learn about old traditions here in Abu Dhabi.
In fact, the government has made it a point to highlight culture through activities and experiences – from one-off to long-running events to returning festivals and guided tours, among many others.
So as we mark World Heritage Day on 18th April, here are some interesting places and activities that will help us understand Emirati culture even more.
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Regarded as the UAE’s national bird, the falcon symbolises force and courage. More importantly, Bedouins used it as a hunting aid in the past. The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital preserves this tradition by taking care and housing thousands of falcons every year.
Since 2007, the hospital has opened its doors to the public through interactive tours, giving the public a deeper idea about the bird’s nature, characteristics and importance to local culture. Visit: www.falconhospital.com
Qasr Al Hosn
Abu Dhabi oldest stone structure had seen a lot. Standing mightily proud still, the landmark has been conserved, renovated and expanded to accommodate the public.
Today, Qasr Al Hosn hosts a permanent exhibition showcasing the city’s rich history through artifacts, photographs and documents. Aside from the iconic fort, the venue also features a Visual Arts Centre, children’s library and sprawling outdoor space great for relaxing and watching occasional cultural programmes. Visit: www.qasralhosn.ae
What better way to learn about culture than through the locals themselves? In an effort to spread awareness about Emirati traditions, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi has organised a variety of guided tours covering all aspects of Emirati culture. From an Emirate House Experience to Sandals Handicraft Experience to Date Factory and Traditional Souq Tour to Food Experiences Tour – there are many options to choose from. What’s more, these tours are hosted by Emiratis making each a truly authentic experience. Visit: www.visitabudhabi.ae
Step back in time and get a taste of ancient Emirati traditions at this cultural landmark. Watch local artisans and craftsmen in action, shop in a traditional souq and enjoy the sights that recreate a traditional oasis village common in the country pre-modern times. Visit: www.torath.ae
Visit Al Ain The Garden City is an absolute time capsule with a lot of significant landmarks that represent UAE culture. Check out the lush Al Ain Oasis and marvel how early settlers used ingenuity to create an irrigation system to make farms flourish.
Make sure to see other historic attractions as well like the iconic Al Jahili Fort, which houses a permanent exhibition of old photos and artifacts, and Al Ain Palace Museum for more glimpse of the UAE’s storied past. Don’t skip the Al Ain Camel Market and Qasr Al Muwaiji – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that served as residence to a generation of Al Nahyan family. Visit: www.visitabudhabi.ae