Emirati, expat launch new guidebook on UAE culture

Dubai: Everything you want to know about Emirati culture is now out in a new book.

‘UAE 101’, jointly written by an Italian journalist and an Emirati writer is filled with a raft of curious pointers on life in the country, including personal experiences from the past.

From chapters about greetings, how to make friends with Emiratis, to the food, art and top 10 things to do in the UAE culturally, the book is a collection of 101 stories and cultural learnings, explaining everyday Emirati customs and traditions to foreigners.

Emirati author Roudha Al Marri, and mother of a child said, the guidebook is the first such project done by an expat and an Emirati and is able to answer questions that come to expats mind.

“The idea of making this book came to me and my friend Ilaria Caielli [co-author of the book], when we were at a friend’s house chatting and having tea. I was surprised with the little details she wanted to know about the UAE culture, and then we thought why not write a book,” said Al Marri.

Caielli came to Al Marri with 101 topics she thinks every expat like her would want to read about. “I didn’t imagine an expat to be interested in this many details about our culture. It was a total surprise to me. We sometimes take these cultural aspects for granted but they are really what made us.”

In the book, Al Marri said she goes down the memory lane and allows people to live the experience she had growing, which helps give a glimpse into the Emirati lifestyle and local way of life.

“I used every resource I could, from friends, to my mother and grandmother. Traditions are not something you learn but grow up with, and in the book, I tried to share the most intricate details so that even the generation who missed the era I grew up in can learn something.”

The topic closest to Al Marri’s heart, she said, is the one about the traditional perfumes used by men and women in the UAE.

“The topic about perfumes is very personal and sentimental for me. As an Emirati, I grew up smelling the perfumes my mother and grandmother used. These perfume mixes are so special that it makes every mother have a unique smell to her own,” she said.

Caielli, who contributed largely to the historical and factual complexion of the book, believes the guidebook will help create closer bridges between people of different cultures and Emiratis.

“The topics are very interesting for everyone. This book is really a demonstration of friendship because it’s made by friends from different cultures and will contribute to bringing people closer together.”

The book even shares details about hand gestures, why people say Inshallah, and what would someone do when visiting a local house, said Al Marri. “This chapter is fun and people will be intrigued to know things from a local perspective.”

A chapter about business etiquette for expats coming to work in the UAE was also included, she said. “They would be able to know what do when an Emirati offers them coffee or when walking into an elevator.”

The book will be available in libraries within the next coming days, according to the authors.

Speak and Greet

Popular Arabic Words:

Ahlan wa Sahlan: welcome

Habeebi: my love

Salam Alaimkum: formal greetings ‘peace be upon you’

Walaikum Assalam: peace be upon you too.

Marhaba: another word for hello

Kaid El Hal: How are you?

Bekhair Elhamdullilah: I’m well, thanks be to God

Shukran: Thank you

Mabrook: Congratulations

Masalamah: Goodbye.

Inshallah: In God’s will. Muslims say this when they discuss something that may take place in the future. Book discusses the meaning and how it should be interpreted.

Mashallah: Use to show appreciation, joy and praise.


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