Beyond the UAE’s record-breaking attractions lies a rich heritage waiting to be explored. Whether you’re looking for a local perspective on life in the emirates or you’d like to journey back in time to gain an insight into the nation’s past, there’s a wealth of cultural experiences to enjoy.
Explore The Emirates Like a Local
No visit to the UAE is complete without immersing yourself in the Emirati way of life. And one of the best ways to do so is by discovering the destination from a local perspective. Meet The Locals, a cultural tour group comprised of Emirati guides from each of the seven different emirates, offers unique experiences designed to take you on a journey through the nation’s past and present. From exploring the UAE’s museums and historical districts to sampling traditional cuisine in a communal setting, rest assured with each experience you’ll take a piece of this rich heritage home with you.
Travel back in time to experience Bedouin life
Life in the Arabian desert was nomadic for centuries with its humble inhabitants navigating the harsh terrain and enduring extreme climes to make a living. As the original desert dwellers, the Bedouin people are integral to any authentic desert safari experience. Luxury eco-tour operator Platinum Heritage offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to step back in time with these local tribes and explore life in the desert as it was decades ago. After arriving at a camp on the back of a camel, you will be greeted in traditional fashion with Arabic coffee, dates and rose water. Here, you can explore a re-constructed Bedouin village featuring traditional homes fashioned out of wood, stones and goat hair. In a fire pit on the sand, you can help your local hosts prepare breakfast with staples that include ragaag bread, foul medames, hummous and sweet dumplings. And as you savour every bite, the Bedouins will share local tales, perform a traditional dance and also demonstrate a hunting session with falcons and saluki dogs.
Sample Emirati cuisine with a local host
If you’re keen to gain a deeper appreciation of the local culture, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding presents an informative space for visitors to connect with its Emirati hosts. Nestled in Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, the centre offers a variety of interactive activities including one-on-one sessions to help guests understand the various facets of the region’s religion and heritage. One of the most popular experiences offered here is an authentic Emirati breakfast or lunch, served in a traditional majlis-style set-up, with your host sharing fascinating insights into the region’s culture and customs.
Discover the origins of pearl diving
During the 18th and 19th centuries, many Emiratis relied on pearl fishing as the main source of their livelihood. Divers would spend months away at sea, living on boats and diving into the ocean in search of oysters. Although modern methods have now replaced these traditional measures, the region still upholds its pearling legacy with great pride. In the UAE capital, the Abu Dhabi Pearl Journey offers visitors an in-depth look at the history of pearling with a fascinating tour through the Eastern Mangroves lagoon. As you sail along the waters, your guide will share stories of pearl divers and entertain you with folk songs, while also showing you how to open oysters. And you can keep any pearls found as a souvenir of this remarkable experience.