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Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

The seasoned expat always has great stories about what it is like living in far flung destinations, mixing with the locals and being totally absorbed into their local customs. In Hong Kong, I worked and socialized with my Chinese colleagues enjoying Dim Sum lunches, was made to eat chicken feet and sing karaoke (badly). As a child, I enjoyed and took part in all the local Chinese Festivals as much as any local child. However, soon after arriving in the UAE, I soon realized there was little opportunity to come in to contact with the local population and therefore was left wondering how will I get that chance to learn about local culture, religion and etiquette of the local Emirati society.

That question was answered by Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) who host events aimed at “removing the barrier between people of different nationalities and raise awareness of the local culture, customs and religion of the UAE”.

Now, whenever I have visitors to Dubai I always make a stop in the Bastakiya area of town for them to enjoy breakfast or lunch at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding where they can enjoy local food and chat to an Emirati host about local culture, customs and religion. The building is set in a traditional wind tower house in one of the oldest parts of town. Each time I visit my guests and myself come away with a better understanding of the local culture & heritage. The Emirati Host answers all types of questions and every time I go different questions are always asked making each visit that bit different.

As well as organizing traditional Emirati breakfast and lunches SMCCU also organize tours of Jumeirah Mosque, tours of the historical Bastakiya area, spoken Gulf Arabic classes & Culture Awareness Programs for the private & public sector.

As a new arrival to the UAE don’t wait for your first set of visitors to arrive before you visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding – visit as soon as you arrive and this will make your living and working experience here much more enjoyable and educational.

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