United Arab Emirates: Global Immersion
March 17, 2012 - March 24, 2012
April 16, 2012
After a 14-hours long flight with most of our group students on the same airplane, we finally arrived in Dubai international airport, tired and excited. The same night after check in to the Landmark Grand Hotel, we enjoyed a memorable evening. Boarding our traditional wooden Arabic dhow and cruising along beautiful Dubai’s Creek, which offered sights of both traditional and modern architecture was a wonderful and different way to see the city. As we finished the nice buffet, everyone went to the open-air upper deck to take pictures and breathed of fresh air. I was amazed at the “city of lights” as we gently sail through the sparkling waters of Dubai’s most famous waterway. March 17 was the first day of our trip. Early this morning, we first had traditional cultural breakfast and then went to the mosque. Before and during the cultural breakfast, the male guide encourages us to ask questions; this mosque tour was also part of the Open Doors, Open Minds Program conducted by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). He talked about the story behind Arabic coffee, why Emirati had dinner on carpet instead of table, why man covered in white and woman all covered in black, and differentiations between American and Emirati. He explained the origins of the religion and its central tenets, the five pillars of Islam: * declaration of faith (shahada), * prayer (salah) * alms giving (zakah) * fasting (saum) during the month of Ramadan * pilgrimage (hajj).
He also explained the five times daily call to prayer and demonstrations of the Islamic prayer ritual. By joining a guided tour of the Mosque in Dubai, I increased the understanding of Emirati culture and the Islamic faith. It actually