New guidebook on local culture to dispel myths
Dubai - Al Marri sought to shed some light - and the truth - on some of the pressing questions.
Does every Emirati have a gas station in his or her house? If someone offers me the eye of a goat, do I have to eat it?
The answer to both the above is no. But these are the genuine - albeit odd - questions that people would often ask Roudha Al Marri, Emirati author and yogi, about life and culture in the UAE.
Intrigued by the curiosities of expats when it comes to Emirati customs and traditions, Al Marri sought to shed some light - and the truth - on some of the pressing questions.
"The story behind the book is so interesting. I was having coffee with my neighbour, Illaria (Caielli), she's from Italy, and we started talking about Emiratis and our culture. She wanted to know more and learn about the things we do. She was curious," Al Marri said.
Not long after, the duo turned that casual chat into a book idea, which is when UAE 101 - Stories and Cultural Learnings: A Guidebook to the Emirati Culture was born.
"We thought, why not create something for everyone to read and learn from? The UAE is a predominantly expatriate country, so we should all get to know our neighbours. A book like this makes it easier to make friends, break down cultural barriers," she said.
On Tuesday, Al Marri will be speaking at a panel session - titled 'Do You Speak My Language?' - at the Emirates Literature Festival. Together with community leaders, Al Marri will talk about the roles played by language and culture in building understanding in diverse societies.
"In order to tolerate someone, you should understand them first. You should make them understand you, too, and what your culture is about. What makes us different shouldn't separate us, it should bring us together."
Looking to close the cultural gap between locals and expatriates who have chosen to call the UAE home, Al Marri said she is also working on a new book that will dispel many of the misconceptions about the Emirati culture.
"If someone has a misconception about me, instead of reacting negatively, I want to react positively and open a dialogue with them. I hope this new book, to be released within a few months, will do that."