UAE reminds Malaysian expats of their country
Malaysians share that they don't have trouble accommodating to the ways of a new land.
Their country is home to diverse cultures, food habits, and interesting weather conditions (sunny times and rain showers). No wonder, Malaysians share that they don't have trouble accommodating to the ways of a new land. "We're global citizens," they say. As per the UAE immigration records (2016), 7,200 Malaysian expats live across the UAE, with 3,500 based in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Most expats are in engineering, education, and banking. Although, the number of Malaysians expats is fewer in comparison to expats from other countries - they have their unique identity.
Adlina Hafez runs her own business (electronics distribution and corporate gifting) in the GCC. Dubai has been home for her family for the last 20 years. "This place is also blessed with a variety of cultures, just like Malaysia. We celebrate Eid, Chinese New Year, Diwali, Christmas, Wesak Day, and a multitude of other festivals. We host open-houses, which are gatherings open for friends and family to attend." The community is also known for its obsession with food, with cooking styles varying as you travel from East to West. "Our national past time is to eat good meals. The best way to get to know a Malaysian is to invite him for a meal. I miss the streets with hawkers, selling local delicacies."
Farheen Azfy, executive planner, PETRONAS, a Malaysian oil and gas company, has been in Dubai since 2011. "I have seen the city change and grow. I enjoy the lively ambience of the place. In the UAE, we are tiny in number, but we live as a family - catching up regularly at home parties. Sometimes, I miss watching traditional Malaysian dance performances like Joget -a lively dance form, which is popular in Indonesia and Malaysia."
In Malaysia's multicultural set up, weddings are considered as one of the biggest celebrations, with every ritual being performed religiously. Given the nationalities of the inhabitants cross-cultural marriages are quite popular in the country. "It has become commonplace, especially these days. It is interesting to witness wedding rituals being performed as per two cultures," says Sameeha Sulaiman, a freelance writer based in Dubai since 2016. She adds, "Within just a year, I have fallen in love with the place." She is happy that the restaurants here serve good Malaysian food. "Also, the Consulate General of Malaysia in Dubai hosts various cultural events, which gives us a chance to connect with one another. I love my expat life, but I do miss my country - especially, the beautiful beaches. Apart from that, I miss enjoying popular home-cooked dishes like Nasi Lemak, which is a steamed coconut rice preparation served with chilli tomatoes, fried peanuts, and a boiled egg. Also, the array of amazingly delicious Malaysian sweets."
Our art forms
The eclectic nature of their country is reflected in their rich arts and crafts, literature, and music. Each ethnic group in Malaysia has its own distinct performing arts. Traditional art forms range from woven baskets to silver work. Weaving is the largest industry in the country. Sago Palm is used to craft jewellery, baskets, hats, floor mats, etc.
Their music and performing arts are a blend of Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Indonesian influences. They rely on music to express themselves, with storytelling being a popular form. Poetry and regional literature too have great importance in Malaysian culture.
Mak Yong, a traditional form of Malay drama, is one of the most prominent art forms in the country. It is an amalgamation of singers and dancers performing to the beats of instruments like drums, xylophones, and gongs. Another popular attraction is the traditional puppet show Wayang Kulit, which shows epic tales like Ramayana as a part of cultural entertainment.
A textile art prevalent on the east coast of the country, Malaysian Batik is different from Indonesian Javanese batik as the patterns are larger and the colours are lighter. The word 'batik' refers to a hot wax-stamping process, which is applied onto a plain cloth that is then soaked in dye. The most popular motifs are leaves, butterflies, and flowers. It is also famous for its geometrical designs such as spirals. There are two main types of batik in Malaysia today - hand-painted and block printed. The government encourages home-grown designers to create batik designers. Men and women adorn Batik at formal functions. Besides shirts and dresses, hand-drawn batik is also made into scarves, pareos, kaftans, and as framed art items.