Global Village's UAE Pavilion showcases Emirati culture

Global Villages UAE Pavilion showcases Emirati culture

The traditional look and feel of the Emirati pavilion is inspired from the traditional souk, with a honey-coloured facade, providing a constant reminder of the country’s desert roots.



By Sadiq Shaban/sub Editor

Published: Mon 23 Feb 2015, 1:24 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:28 PM

The Emirati pavilion at the Global Village offers a lot to shoppers, from the traditional to the modern. — Supplied photo

The culture of the UAE has a sui generis quality to it. Influenced in large parts by a unique environment and social beliefs, it is strongly informed by the country’s varied terrain, deserts, coasts and traditional lifestyles. One would have to have a close interaction with the local communities to be able to experience it. However, a very diverse and cosmopolitan population means that the interface with the local traditions happens rarely. There is hope though: The UAE pavilion at the Global Village. It has become an instant hit.

In its 19th season, the bigger and better version of the Global Village has been careful to replicate the essence of the country in the UAE pavilion.

The traditional look and feel of the Emirati pavilion is inspired from the traditional souk, with a honey-coloured facade, providing a constant reminder of the country’s desert roots.

Fragrance of burning bukhoor, woodchips soaked in special oils, awakens your senses as you amble into the pavilion. Walking past the chips burning in mabkhara or censer gives you a feel of being in an exotic majlis, an Arab congregation with social connotations.

“Emirati Pavilion has always been a reflection of the hospitality and the heritage of the UAE people. The facade is an architectural masterpiece with its colours inspired from the sandy dunes of Arabian desert which also feature barajil, a specially designed window that helps in cross ventilation and creating a natural cooling system,” Ahmed Hussain, COO of Global Village, told Khaleej Times. Witnessing the amazing architectural elements that created natural ventilation and cooling, prior to the advent of modern air-conditioning, is an unforgettable experience for many visitors.

“A visit to the Emirati pavilion is both educative and fun. We didn’t know much about wind-catchers and this particular style of architecture, although I have seen some buildings in Dubai styled on this pattern. It felt like walking in an ancient Arab courtyard with its brilliant ventilation and heat-management strategy,” Barbara Saunders, a British expat working in Dubai, told Khaleej Times. The construction of barajil depends on the direction of airflow and given the arid desert conditions, it used to be an important part of early Arab infrastructure.

Once inside the UAE pavilion, it is a common sight to see stall owners welcoming guests with Arabian coffee mixed with special ingredients like cardamom and saffron. Ahmed Hussain agrees that the tradition of offering coffee and dates is a peculiar mark of the Emirati hospitality. Visitors can be seen readily gulping their small coffee cups, called finjan (declining finjan is considered very impolite). Arabic coffee, called Kahvah, is not filtered or percolated. It is instead boiled and poured from a brass pot with a long spout called dallah (seen pictured on a one-dirham coin).

Successfully showcasing the local produce of the UAE, the Emirati pavilion usually sees a rush of shoppers, cruising for traditional products such as Abayas (cloaks for women), Jellabiyas (traditional wide-cut garmets), Shemagh (square Arab headdress), Sheila (headcover for both men and women), besides other Emirati specialties like Khous baskets, made from palm fronds.

These baskets provide a fine example of traditional crafts, which involve workmen nimbly working on fronds to preserve and promote handicrafts in a rapidly modernising society.

A lot of people go for the local Assal (honey) at the UAE pavilion. Usually runny and of a variable viscosity, the honey finds its way to the breakfast table.

“We have both Sidar and Samar honey available in the stall. Visitors can also buy honeycombs of the small bee from us. The Samar variety, in medium red-brown colour and medium viscosity, is more sought after,” Amr Halim, an Egyptian salesboy at one of the UAE stalls, revealed. While the Sidar variety is dark straw colour with a slight haze, the costlier Samar honey is known for its flowery aroma.

Despite its progress in indices such as infrastructure and trade, the UAE society still holds heritage and tradition in high esteem. Whether it is the culturally significant Yollah (plastic prop used in the traditional dance) or the classic walking sticks used in conventional Emirati dances, the UAE pavilion has it all.

“The traditional corner adds a special flavour to the atmosphere of the pavilion showcasing stunning traditional products such as Al Raha (traditional kitchen equipment) used for grinding wheat, clay pots to keep water called Al Kharas, in addition to number of handmade artifacts,” Ahmed Hussain said.

So the next time you take a trip to the Village, don’t forget to collect your share of heritage from the popular UAE pavilion. Large dollops of Emirati hospitality awaits you, for free! — sadiq@khaleejtimes.com


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