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UAE (United Arab Emirates) is a country that is in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders Saudi Arabia to the south and Oman to the east. It shares borders with Iran to the south and Qatar to the west. UAE is a federation of six principalities, which are referred to as emirates. These constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah, and Umm Al-Quwain. Of these seven emirates, Dubai is the largest city. It has many more structures that are advanced than any of the other seven emirates. It is also the most developed in terms of technology and business. The capital of UAE is Abu Dhabi. Most of the political activities in the country revolve around this city. Apart from its citizens, the country’s population consists of a number of ethnic groups. These include other Arabs, Pakistanis, South Asians, Bangladeshis, Koreans, Americans, Northern Africans, Australians, and many more. The endless list proves that UAE attracts people from all parts of the world. Its citizens only account for 16.6% of the total population in the United Arab Emirates. This country has rich oil deposits, which make it one of the largest exporters of oil in the world.
Although other languages are used in UAE, the official language in use is Arabic. The country has Islam as the main religion of its occupants. Therefore, their main reference religious book is the Koran. The national anthem of the country is ‘Ishy Bilady,’ which means ‘long live the nation’. It was adopted in 1971 when the country was formed. Apart from the national anthem, this country has a motto. The motto is, ‘God, then the homeland, then the President’ (Davidson 2009). This shows three main factors in the country which have been given priority in such order. It shows that the citizens of this country place religion above every thing else. This country is rich in cultural activities, which attract many tourists.
Nature of People in UAE
Every nation incorporates people of its origin as well as people of other different parts of the world. The population of each country is a mixture of people with different backgrounds. However, there is always a general nature of the people in a certain country. This is mostly influenced by the origin of the natives as well as their characteristics. The people in UAE are of different origins. However, the original citizens of the country have their own unique characteristics. First of all, these people are religious. They place other developments of the nation way behind when it comes to the question of religion. Since Islam is the main religion in the country, people pay regular visits to the mosques to offer their sacrifices to God. This is even revealed in their national motto. They claim that God should always come first.
The other factor about these people is the retention of familial bonds. Despite the developments and technological advancements in the country, the people still manage to retain these bonds. In a nation that has rich oil deposits and numerous people coming in and out of the country, this is remarkable. It shows that these people uphold and treasure unity among them as well as with other people (Walker & Butler, 2010).
There are other religions in this country apart from Islam. For example, there are Christians with churches in the east. However, conflicts are rare in this region. The people from the two religions are able to coexist and live together. Therefore, the country holds people who come from totally different backgrounds. However, they live together united by some of the practices that are common between them. For example, eating of pork is prohibited in both Islam and Jewish laws. This is a factor that can help to draw these religions together. This is the case in UAE where the people of different cultures and backgrounds exist.
This country attracts a considerably large number of people. This is because of the many opportunities which are evidently available in the country. They have large oil deposits as well as many flourishing businesses. However, there are many other countries which have as much resources, yet they do not attract as many people. This brings in the issue of the nature of the citizens of this nation. The people in UAE display remarkable etiquette, especially when dealing with other people. This is guided by the Qur’an, which is their outstanding book of reference when it comes to religion. There is prescribed Islamic etiquette referred to as Adab. This guides the people in their day to day dealings. Therefore, these people have strong moral values, which seemingly attract more people to the nation. These values include humanness, ethics, morals, manners, righteousness, and decency.
Most of the characteristics of these people are based on Islam. Most of the UAE citizens uphold Islamic dressing codes. Besides, according to their beliefs, the left hand is considered unclean and should be reserved for bodily hygiene. Therefore, most of the activities that these people engage in involve the right hand. When someone gives anything away using the left hand, it is considered as an insult (King, 2008). The citizens abhor the display of affection publicly. They do not show any affection publicly even if they are married. These displays of affection also include small things such as holding hands. Also, respect is always paid to older people in nearly every circumstance. For example, when older people enter a room, the younger people are required to stand up. During the greetings of crowds, one is expected to start with the older people. This also applies to serving meals at a table: one should start with the elders before tending the younger people.
The people in UAE are considerably hospitable. They take immense pride in offering themselves and their services to any visitors who come along. Guests are offered expensive snacks and delicacies as a sign of welcome. Failure to do this is considered as an offence by the country’s inhabitants. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics that attract people from all over the world. Everyone who visits this country always feels the urge to come back there again due to the hospitality of the country’s inhabitants. The personal and professional lives of the citizens are not separated. They tend to involve family bonds and ties in their business undertakings. They believe that smart businesses are based on familial relationships. Therefore, they do not find it hard to mix these two factors. The people from UAE also have another general characteristic. They possess brilliant business minds. Most of the people in this country are very business minded, and most of the businesses that they do normally flourish. This is one of the reasons why the country has achieved economic stability in the past years (King, 2008).
UAE Customs and Traditions
Countries and regions in the world are recognized through their customs and traditions. These are the beliefs on which the societal activities are based. They create taboos and restrictions for members of the society. This ensures that the members of a society do live according to the accepted code of conduct. They also provide the measures that should be taken against the individuals who go against the cultural beliefs in the society. UAE has many traditions that guide its members.
As mentioned earlier, the predominant religion in this country is Islam. Therefore, nearly all the customs and beliefs are based on this religion. However, the people In UAE are flexible and always adjust their behaviors in order to attract more people. Politeness and courteousness are some of the virtues that are cherished by the Arabs. They are very welcoming, especially to foreigners and strangers. Failing to be hospitable is an offence according to their cultural beliefs. This is the reason why Dubai attracts more people than other nations in the world. This country has reception rooms allover. The sole purpose of these reception rooms is to receive and welcome guests and visitors from any part of the country or world. According to their customs, each apartment or house should have two reception rooms. These reception houses are known as Majlis. According to their customs, age hierarchy is considered when seated in the Majlis. Rose water is sprinkled on the head of the visitor as a sign of welcome.
According to the cultural beliefs and values, one can go out and drink alcohol with friends. However, this individual should not appear drunk on the road (Cordesman, 1997). This would amount to an offence. It is a belief that is not so authoritative. It does not prohibit the use of alcohol. However, it discourages public display of drunkenness. The other thing that this rule accomplishes is to ensure responsible taking of alcohol, in case any is taken. Most of the customs and traditions in UAE are guided by religion. Others have been discussed in the nature of the people in UAE.
Wedding in the Past and Present
Every nation has its cultural values and practices, which were present from time immemorial. Such cultural practices are vital to a nation since they define the people found in the country. However, it is impossible to retain the same set of beliefs and cultural activities for a considerably long time. This means that every cultural belief and activity is bound to change. The practice might not necessarily change, but the manner in which it is done may vary as time passes. Therefore, UAE is not an exception. Its cultural practices are subject to change and variation through time. This can be clearly seen when to compare the mode of conduction of weddings in the past and how it has changed to what it is in the present.
In traditional weddings, the first step was the preparation of the bride for the wedding. The bridegroom was also getting prepared, but more time was taken for the preparation of the bride. These preparations of the bride had to be exhaustive and elaborate. The bride was anointed with all sorts of perfumes and oils from head to toe. The hair of the bride was washed with extracts of amber and jasmine. The girlfriends of the bride prepared the best dishes that there could be and shared them with the bride. In forty days before the wedding, only the family members were allowed to see the bride. The bride used to stay at home in order to be prepared for the wedding (Hurreiz, 2002). The necessary items, which included silk materials, jewelry, and perfumes, were presented by the groom. The bride used them to create an elaborate Addahbia. This was a trousseau that the bride wore on the wedding day. It was painless but gorgeous. Therefore, it was not expensive to make or to buy it. This contrasts the dresses that are worn in the present times.
The festivities used to take nearly a week before the wedding night. There was a ladies night a few days before the wedding day. This was referred to as henna night or Laylat Al Henna. During this night, the bride’s feet were decorated with henna. This was a brown paste that was obtained from the henna plant. It leaves a dark red stain when left on the skin for some time. During this night, all the girlfriends of the bride as well as her family members gathered. They celebrated and danced together in anticipation for the wedding. The eyes of the bride were also lined with Arabian Kohl. This was eyeliner which made their large eyes look beautiful. The back to back celebrations were conducted by members of both genders separately. These celebrations are carried out differently in different parts of the country. However, these main activities and procedures are adhered to all over the country in traditional weddings.
Over time, activities and procedures followed during the marriage have changed. The present day weddings are totally different to what they used to be many years ago. Most of the activities carried out have changed with time. This change in the conduction of weddings in UAE is just a representation of the many changes that occur to the cultural activities of people. This does not mean that the traditions of such communities have changed. They just develop to something that is almost equivalent to change.
One of the events that reveal change in the conduction of the wedding is the preparation of brides. Traditionally, this was quite an undemanding exercise. It involved just the decorating of the bride and application of perfume. In the present day weddings, things are much more complicated than that. The preparation of the bride costs much more in the present day weddings than in the traditional ones. The bride receives quite expensive jewelry, which makes her preparation quite deeper. She also wears expensive clothing and ensures that everything she puts on is classy. This shows that the average cost of a modern wedding preparation is way higher than that in the traditional weddings.
In traditional wedding celebrations, only the family members were invited. Most of the activities, like cooking and decorating the bride, were done by family members. However, this has changed with time. The invitation list has grown bigger with time. The weddings are now also open for outsiders. Those people who attend the weddings do not necessarily have to be family members. Friends as well as other willing people are welcomed for the wedding celebrations. This shows that as time goes by, people drop some of their beliefs along the way. As a country becomes more developed and educated, its members change some of its customs and traditions.
In the past, weddings were given priority whenever they had to occur. They were allocated considerable amounts of time without worrying of other activities that had to be done. The bride was given all her time in order to prepare for the wedding. The celebrations of the weddings began one week before, and there was a historic night for the bride. This was referred to as the henna night and involved the female relatives of the bride. In the present day, people give priority to many other things, other than weddings. They give the wedding only a few days of celebration. In some extreme cases, the wedding celebration is only given one day (Cordesman, 1997). This makes a considerably large contrast between the traditional weddings and the present day ones. The time that is allocated to the present day weddings suggests something different. It shows that the people involved are just interested in doing away with the celebrations. This shows that the present day weddings lack the taste and enjoyment that was in the traditional weddings.
In traditional weddings, the celebrations were characterized by singing of traditional music and dances. These were used for celebrating by the bride and her family members who were involved in the wedding. They brought a sense of tradition since the people sang the traditional songs themselves. However, this has changed with time. The music in modern weddings is not sung at the celebrations. Instead, DJ music is used for the celebrations. However, traditional music is still played during these celebrations. Also, the bride used to be in extremely unsophisticated attire in traditional weddings. She used to wear a classic dress and used only the Arabian kohl. Now, the bride wears a lot of colorful makeup, which incorporates a high sense of style. They also wear a white designer wedding dress for the wedding day. Therefore, the dressing of the bride costs way much more in the present day than it was before (Rugh, 2010).
The above mentioned are not the only factors that show and signify change in the weddings in UAE. Change is also seen in the foods that are given priority on the weddings. It goes without say that the foods used in traditional weddings were straightforward and traditional. Nowadays, on the wedding day, there is an extremely wide variety of foods that are offered. This includes both traditional and modern foods. In the traditional weddings, rice and meat were fundamental foodstuffs for any wedding to occur. However, in the present time, this has been substituted by cake. This is a perfect example of changing times and cultures. The rice and meat represents the past, while the cake represents the present.
Therefore, the comparison of weddings in the past and the present in UAE reveals that changes have occurred. These two seem like versions of two different countries. The time, procedure, and requirements of the preparation of the bride and the groom have considerably changed. The cost of weddings has increased sharply as well as the dowry that the groom has to pay to get the bride. This has discouraged the men from marrying in this country. Therefore, the men in the country have continuously opted to marry women from outside the country. They are doing this to save the large amounts of money that are used in getting a bride in UAE.
Critical and Evaluation Comments
The traditional weddings in UAE were extremely enjoyable. They seemed to be special for the bride as well as the bridegroom. These weddings were given priority and were allocated all the time that was needed for it. The family members were brought together by these weddings. This included the bringing together of the in-law families. A wedding was a unique cultural activity carried out by the citizens of UAE. However, it has changed with time. Today, weddings are totally altered. The weddings are given extremely little time for their conduction. Therefore, everything is done in a hurry (Hurreiz, 2002). More emphasis has been put on quantity instead of quality. The people spend way much more money on these modern weddings that it was the case with the traditional ones. However, the procedures followed have been continuously neglected with the time.
People should develop their traditional and cultural practices instead of changing and dropping them. This is because such traditions used to be more remarkable and enjoyable. They gave the members of the society something to look forward to. Changing and altering them only leads to loss of heritage and valuable traditions. This leads to loss of uniqueness and a sense of distinction from other communities in the world.
Most countries have been seen to lose their cultural beliefs and tendencies in favor of other new ones from other countries. This leads to a country that cannot be admired by the world. As time goes by, changes occur in the world. Some of the cultural activities become outdated and unfit for the new society (Cordesman, 1997). However, this is not a reason why people should change or drop some of their cultural beliefs. They should try to develop these practices and beliefs and adjust them to the changing times. This would ensure that the culture of people in a country is not lost and at the same time, it does not seem to be outdated. This is what should be happening in UAE instead of the increased loss of cultural beliefs and traditions.
The activities that occur in a certain nation have to change with time. This does not necessarily imply that people lose their values in the process. They still retain their values but carry out their cultural activities in a different style and manner. This is the case that is observed in the wedding traditions in UAE from the past to the present. The changes are gradual but still evident with time. The manner in which activities are conducted in the weddings nowadays is quite different from how it used to be in the past. Therefore, it is a clear point of reference when it comes to the topic of national changes.