Global Village: A window to the past

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Global Village: A window to the past

The Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre at Global Village offers visitors a glimpse into life in the UAE before the discovery of oil

By Suchitra Steven Samuel (supplements Editor)

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Published: Mon 16 Mar 2015, 9:15 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:31 PM

The Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre in Global Village showcases a traditional way of life. Supplied photos

The Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre in Global Village showcases a traditional way of life. Supplied photos

As DR Carl Sagan rightly said, “You have to know the past to understand the present.” The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Centre close to Gate 1 at Global Village offers you a glimpse into life in the UAE before the discovery of oil and all the developments that transformed the nation. Life was simple then with just a few basic necessities, the exhibition tells us. Here you can learn about several aspects of the old way of life through exhibits of a traditional fireplace, mountain houses, tents, marine heritage and more.

Arousing the curiosity of visitors is Al Wa’ab, used hundreds of years ago, usually seen in mountainous regions. It is built of gravel, on private land used for cereal cultivation during the rainy season and protects agricultural crops from torrential rains. The description informs you that it is usually located near the source of rainwater, which seeps into the soil and makes the land fit for cultivation. This site is also used for storing rainwater.

Another display, the Saffa House, is built from stone and has a hollow interior. This structure supports natural air circulation, making these houses ideal as summer homes in mountainous areas. As the stone does not absorb heat like other building materials, the interior stays naturally cooler. Walls have multiple openings to allow ventilation and the roof is made up of branches of the Asbak tree.

Other exhibits are Eleanor, a place that is built in a circular shape, at a higher level and Al Modar, which is flat, tilted to the middle, and is used to separate the cereals from the ears. It allows the separation process that involved a number of people using palm fronds.

Al Rahaa, a tool for grinding grains is another exhibit. It is made of a sturdy stone like granite or basalt, has parallel layers, and is hollow in the middle to put the grains inside. It works by manually moving the upper stone to grind the grains that fall to the ground. Bakhar is the store or warehouse for the residents of the house.

The Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre in Global Village showcases a traditional way of life. Supplied photos

Usually, Kirin tents are located closer to the coast and used during winter. Cone shaped, these structures are built from palm fronds. Tall poles, referred to as ‘yadu’ are dug into the soil to support the fronds, forming the walls of the tent. The supporting poles are palm tree trunks and the tent can only be accessed from the front, with the entrance also fashioned from palm leaves known as ‘arish’.

Bait Al Sha’ar (house of hair) is the house of the Bedouin, made from sheep’s wool. The size of the house and the tools reflect the status of the owner in the Bedouin community.

Al Hathira is a gathering place for a council that is organised especially by and for local residents in the region. It is covered by the branches of the ‘markh’ tree, which is indigenous to the UAE. As the structure cannot withstand strong winds and bad weather conditions, it is propped and supported by ‘markh’ branches. As winds in the UAE naturally blow toward the southeast, the building is constructed in the form of a circle, with the entrance facing northwest.

To truly understand the past, is to prepare for the future, and the exhibits here provide an insight into the heart and soul of a culture that has surpassed the expectations set for them. 

suchitra@khaleejtimes.com



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