Author busts expat myths about UAE culture and lifestyle

Published:  8 Mar at 6 PM
Want to get involved? Become a Featured Expat and take our interview.
Become a Local Expert and contribute articles.
Get in touch today!
Tagged: Citizenship, Dubai, UAE
The Gulf States, however popular as an expat destination, are to many a region of myth and mystery set in an uncomfortably dry, hot climate.

Out of all the world’s exotic expatriate destinations, the Emirates and their citizens are perhaps the most prone to Westerners’ misconceptions as regards culture, history and lifestyle. A recently published book attempts to dispel the myths and assumptions of new expat arrivals along with a good number of long-stayers, and was the focus of a session at the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature in Dubai.

The author, Roudha al Merri, explained her book's a collection of misconceptions held by those who’re totally unfamiliar with Arab culture in general and UAE culture in particular. Volume 1 on this fascinating subject gives answers to the 50 most-asked questions about UAE life and culture, with Al Merri now working on volume 2’s further 51 questions. In a conversation with the media, she identified the most common question as ‘are all Arabs rich?’, declining to given an answer and recommending reading her book to find out. Other questions she’s dealt with include ‘Is Dubai a city or a country’, and ‘Are all Emiratis from Dubai’.

Of course, many of the remaining questions dig far deeper into Arab life, culture and religion, and her answers may surprise even those who believe they know the region well. Some people, she explained, are scared to visit with Emiratis as they don’t know how to behave without causing offence, and others touch on how Emirati Muslims spend their Fridays. One point Al Merri strives to make is that, nowadays, Dubai is as modern a city as any in the Western world, with former traditions and cultural aspects changing as a result.

For example, many modern Emiratis don’t eat meat – Al Merri herself is a vegan – and the tradition of serving goat’s head with rice as a main dish is just a memory for city-dwellers. Another tradition which is fading fast but still seems to hold a fascination for expats is that of arranged marriages, with Al Merri reassuring reporters that love is alive and kicking in the UAE.

Like this news?

Comments » No published comments just yet for this article...

Feel free to have your say on this item. Go on... be the first!

Tell us Your Thoughts On This Piece:

Your Name *
Email * (not published, needs verification one time only)
  • Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • RSS feed
  • Facebook

Latest Headlines

News Links

News Archive