Heritage Tour at the Shiekh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
Our first day in Dubai called for very hot weather, but we were extremely excited nonetheless to make it to our highlight destination. After a quick hotel breakfast, we headed to our transportation of the day - the metro. This rapid transit rail runs about 55mph and has two lines available - red and green, that carry a maximum of 1.3 million people per day. It was inaugurated in 2009, and has since been and will be a catalyst for tourism, financial, and economic growth.
We walked a few blocks down and caught the metro to Deira.
The first stop was at the Shiekh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, where we were invited in a room to sit in a group and learn about traditional cultural practices of the Emirates, like an afternoon gathering. We were taught that a deaf and dumb man would be hired as a server to a group of guests and hosts so that he couldn't hear private conversations or have the ability to talk to interrupt them. The coffee we were served was filled only halfway to the top, so that our hands wouldn't burn, and if we wanted more, we firmly hand the cup to the server once again. To balance out the bitter, we were also offered more luquaimat and a side of date syrup, a minimum of four. You just can't stop at one.
We learned about hierarchical means of a family, how they dress and the meaning of their clothes, and a mechanism that helps keep their homes cool; the windtower.
We were then taken out to a building where we learned the different jobs that men and women have to create textiles, baskets, pillows and sheets, and jewelry to sell in markets to support themselves. They were generous enough to let us try to fluff cotton until suitable to use in pillows and mattresses. It was harder than it seemed!
Later, we were introduced to a model settlement that represented life in the desert. Tents were made from rugs, sticks, and animal skin, and fires were fed with camel droppings. Speaking of camels...
We met SMCCU's very own camel, Nora, and her son. Our students still couldn't get enough of the camels on this trip!
Souk Tour and Dubai Museum
Bargaining in Dubai has been at the top of our bucket lists for the longest time. Today we were finally able to complete these barters at the souks. We traveled on a boat across the water- the fastest route- that only cost 1 AED. Yes, 1 AED!! When we got off, we met with another tour guide who helped us how to lower the price of something, explaining that we shouldn't pay more than 50% of the askers' price. If they saw us as foreigners, they would raise the price and expected us to pay. Some of our best barter deals among have been:
A 'kashmire' scarf from AED500 to AED 90
Inscence from AED 450 to AED 50
Pants from AED 200 to AED 60
Walking through the souks gave us a new perspective on the people and how passionate they are about their jobs - really straining to get us to buy something. It was definitely a point of cultural understanding that we went through while walking through these markets.
The Dubai Museum was very informative and entertaining. Before being a museum, it was a fort built back in 1787, an arsenal, and a prison. The original name, 'Al Fahidi Fort" brought us knowledge that we couldn't find in many areas; like testing the different environments of urban and rural lives in the desert, agriculturally, and even underwater. Throughout the museum, we were also able to view authentic drawings and documents for trades, original monuments, pottery, weapons, and tombs.Their website states that, "A visit to Dubai Museum "Al Fahidi Fort" offers an opportunity to get acquainted with the history of Dubai, which gives an impression that Dubai's current development, modernism and distinction are only a continuation of a journey of a unique and distinguished civilization that was subjected to different cultures and people, as well as an example of the strong bond with Arabism and Islam."
After our activities, we started to see some advertisements for gelato, and as we got closer, we noticed there was something special about the gelato in Dubai.
Before we knew it, Mr. Kaser was buying us all camel milk gelato.
Camel. Milk. Gelato.
In my opinion, it was fantastic; icy, creamy, not too sweet, and perfect for an extremely hot day (91ºF). So, from all of us,
THANK YOU MR. KASER!!!!!!!
Dhow Dinner Cruise
Our 6th dinner together, but our first on a boat! The Dhow Dinner Cruise came complete with sparkling beverages, outdoor seating, 2 levels, and a delicate buffet-style dinner selection. Many of the foods we felt like we had been acquainted with already, and so we were very comfortable with our menu options. We could choose from a variety of starter breads, prepared salads, rice and garlic noodles, sauteed vegetables, chicken and beef kebabs, and lemon butter fish.
After eating, our plates were cleaned and removed to prepare for our on-boat entertainment. Suddenly, a small tugboat drives up next to us and a tall man climbs onto our boat! We were all shocked. Before long, this man had a skirt on and was spinning along to the music in the background. Just spinning in a circle, using plates to do tricks with his hands while holding his balance. It seemed to get more intense as we went on, for he then shut off the lights and the skirt, and then he started to spin faster, and then brought out 2 skirts to spin with. Although it was not traditional entertainment, it sure was enjoyable!