When Japanese and Emirati cultures interact

DUBAI — Khaled Bin Hammad belongs to a generation of young Emiratis who are building the bridge between Emirati and world cultures. “There are barriers between cultures and people of different nationalities. Meeting new people and learning from their culture and traditions gives you new knowledge that cannot be learned from books.”


Muaz Shabandri

Published: Sun 11 Jul 2010, 11:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 2:46 PM

He, alongwith a group of other Emiratis are making an effort to make themselves understood better by regularly participating in cultural exchange forums. He adds, “Learning from different cultures brings out a refined personality from within oneself and there is no better city to do it than Dubai.”

Asma Al Tajer, an Emirati entrepreneur spends her spare time teaching Arabic and Islamic at the UAE-Japan Culture Center. “People need to be willing and interested in explaining their cultures. Once you break the ice, it is really easy. Experiencing the culture first-hand is the best way to understand it rather than making assumptions about it,” says Asma.

Asma is one of the few Emiratis who has learned Japanese at the UAE-Japan culture center. “By interacting at the center, we try to explain to them what we are and also learn from them and what they are,” she says. She adds that the Japanese culture resembles Emirati culture in many ways as hospitality and politeness characterise people of both the cultures.

Naoko Kishida Tahnon, founder-director of the UAE-Japan culture center says, “Most of the Japanese residents do not have a single Emirati friend. They live in a close-knit conservative Japanese community. The center offers Japanese people a chance to know the UAE culture while introducing the Japanese traditions to the UAE citizens.”

The center hosts Arabic cultural understanding courses along with lectures and field trips for Japanese residents.

Naoko takes pride in sending all her kids to Arabic schools as she says, “You must meet, talk and interact with others, if you wish to understand others and be understood by others.”

Interestingly, themed ‘Social Days’ are organised by the center, where the Japanese get together with Emiratis to interact on a one-to-one level. Rimi Tajiri, a Japanese housewife attending her first social day at the center said, “This is the first time I have tasted Emirati food. Most of the dishes are mixed with flour and meat and it is has a very unique flavour, something I haven’t tasted before.”

Sporting a white Kandoora, Ahmad Bin Dalmouk talks about the Emarati cuisine in Japanese to his Japanese friends at the center.

He says, “Dubai is an interesting place to exchange knowledge about cultures and get people to understand what you are and language is an important part of learning any culture. If you learn the language, you get immersed in their people, traditions and heritage.”

At the crossroads of the world, this young generation of Emaratis prides itself on creating a platform on which ideas, insights and perceptions can be exchanged and where a cultural dialogue can be built among different people from around the world.


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