New scheme to safeguard cultural heritage, support traditional practices and offer training and permits to Emiratis
Abu Dhabi: The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) inaugurated the ‘Bait Al Gahwa’ (Coffee House) initiative, providing licence for tourism projects that offer a real-life simulation of the traditional Emirati coffee making and serving.
The initiative launched at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island is a key element of DCT Abu Dhabi’s strategy to revive authentic heritage and traditions, said a press release issued on Tuesday. The initiative is part of DCT Abu Dhabi’s commitment to preserve and promote heritage and support a traditional practice like the art of making Arabic coffee, which was inscribed on Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2015.
Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, commented: “Heritage is the essence of a nation’s identity, for the pivotal role it plays in establishing a strong sense of belonging amongst its people. With the ‘Bait Al Gahwa’ initiative, we strive to share a cherished part of our identity, to pay our respects to the connections made over a cup of authentic Arabic coffee, to further enhance a cultural dialogue and a profound sense of acceptance and tolerance,” he said.
Saif Saeed Ghobash, undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “Bait Al Gahwa licence is the first stage of starting a potentially lucrative tourism project, combining heritage practices like hospitality with Emirati etiquette. The programme also teaches individuals to operate independent private projects that add character to the Abu Dhabi’s tourist proposition. The Bait Al Gahwa experience is based on the direct relationship between the operator and his guests, where they serve as a tour guide offering a real-life experience to tourists, reflecting the depth and authenticity of our traditions,” he added.
‘Bait Al Gahwa’ permits will be granted to Emirati youths who are interested in operating independent projects, after receiving extensive training by the heritage experts at the Department of Culture and Tourism. The training course teaches the steps of making coffee using traditional tools, as well as the traditions of serving coffee and managing the majlis in which the ceremony takes place.
DCT Abu Dhabi has set standards for ‘Bait Al Gahwa’ projects, which incorporate other heritage elements that are inscribed on Unesco’s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The traditional Bait Al Gahwa majlis design includes many authentic heritage elements, such as Al Kuwar or the stove, which is located such that guests can watch the coffee-making stages.