ABU DHABI, 27th September, 2018 (WAM) — The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, DCT Abu Dhabi, has inaugurated the ‘Bait Al Gahwa’ (Coffee House) initiative at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island.
Bait Al Gahwa is a key element of DCT Abu Dhabi’s strategy to revive authentic heritage and traditions. It aims to provide licenses for operating tourism projects that offer a real-life simulation of the traditional Emirati process of preparing and serving coffee.
The ceremony was attended by Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi and Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi.
The initiative is part of DCT Abu Dhabi’s commitment to preserve and promote heritage and support traditional practices, in this instance the art of making Arabic coffee, which was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2015.
Speaking on the occasion, Al Mubarak said, “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. The UAE’s dedication to reviving traditional practices and preserving them has a significant impact, demonstrated most notably in the inscription of seven elements of Emirati heritage on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, of which Gahwa, or Arabic Coffee, is one. This practice holds a very special place in Arab and Emirati heritage. 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. Who better to transfer and represent these highly-held traditions than Emiratis themselves”.
“The Bait Al Gahwa initiative is one of many distinctive practices that enrich the Abu Dhabi cultural tourism experience and provide a space for our heritage to be present in contemporary settings without losing its essential and traditional character,” said Ghobash. “It also aims to train Emiratis, on all aspects of its practice, from preparation to serving, as it involves deep-rooted traditions continue to be practiced. Today, Gahwa is internationally recognised due to being inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List and the UAE remains committed to preserving elements inscribed on this list through initiatives that ensure their survival and practice by future generations.
“A ‘Bait Al Gahwa’ license 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 tourist proposition. The Bait Al Gahwa experience is based on the direct relationship between the owner 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 & 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. Those wishing to participate in this initiative must follow the traditions of coffee-making and serving as recognised by UNESCO.
DCT Abu Dhabi is currently receiving applications for the 10-day training programme, with DCT Abu Dhabi also providing a workshop offering theoretical and practical training.