Be a Bedouin for a Day – Experience All Things Local
There are endless reasons why millions of people are drawn to Dubai and UAE, visiting each year, with many of them even setting up a more permanent base here, with family, kids, and businesses. Dubai continues to cast its magical spell on so many of us, with its sunny weather, sandy beaches, desert dunes, luxury shopping, great business climate, entertainment, and safety.
But two other giant attributes draw people to the Emirates, and those are the history and culture of the UAE.
The country has a vastly valuable tradition footprint, and people come from near and far to learn more about this land and its people.
Bedouins – Oldest Inhabitants of the Arabian Desert
Tracking back on the footsteps of Bedouins, we find that these nomadic people belonging to Arab tribes are a huge, integral part of the region’s history.
The fascinating history of Dubai takes us back to the Bani Yas tribe who stumbled upon these shores back in 1883 and made an unquestionable contribution to the country. For the Bani Yas tribe, life in the desert dunes consisted of hunting, trading, tending to their herds of camels, and traversing the sand for thousands of miles with the sun serving as the only compass for direction during the day.
At night, the Bedouins relied on the stars for directions, to point them north. The Bedouins are governed by a strong sense of honour and pride, known for their loyalty, generosity, welcoming nature, hospitality, and resilience.
And, it is great to see how modern Emiratis today very much exhibit the same traits as their ancestors.
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Dubai Hills View, Dubai Hills Mansions
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A Glimpse of Traditional Emirati Life
Residents and visitors in Dubai can immerse themselves in an authentic Bedouin experience and get exclusive insights into Emirati heritage in many desert sanctuaries across the UAE.
One such famous place is the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, the largest unfenced nature reserve in the UAE, abundant with wildlife. The Al Marmoom Bedouin experience will take you through falcon shows, Emirati cuisine, and folklore. It will have you travel across the dunes on camels, revisiting the past through storytelling, poetry, and music.
You will gather around campfires with the locals, sipping on the traditional Arabic Gahwa and sampling Emirati dates.
Back in the old days, the Bedouins used to chant Taghrouda, a mesmerizing style of poetry to accompany them through their endless desert journeys and to encourage their companions, the camels to walk in step with the beat of the narrative.
Even today, this heritage is highly revered and upheld in Emirati tradition.
Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is home to over 200 species of native and migrating birds, as well as 10 square kilometers of lakes including the popular Al Qudra lakes.
Bedouin Oasis Camp
This is by far one of the most authentic Bedouin camps across UAE, nestled in the heart of Ras Al Khaimah’s splendid rural landscape, and following in the footsteps of the emirate’s traditional tribes.
If you wish to explore the raw beauty of the Northern emirate and be part of daily desert life, this camp is unmissable.
The locals will welcome you in typical Emirati style, with warmth and courtesy, around a roaring fire.
Step inside their goat hair tents and majilis where Arabian rugs and colourful cushions await before dinner is served. This is your chance to witness how the Bedouins cook their traditional dishes in an ancient style, using underground cooking ovens covered with sand and massive charcoal grills to barbecue goat meat and bake the bread.
The Bedouin Oasis in Ras Al Khaimah perfectly replicates this delectable cuisine, and it is literally mouth-watering. The old recipe requires at least 24 hours of cooking time until the meat is so soft it slips off the bone. Other traditional dishes that accompany this feast include Arabic breads, rice, shish tawook, hoummus, fattoush, and camel milk.
The initial means of transport for Bedouins were indeed the camels, but with time, the modern Emirati developed a more sophisticated style to traverse and conquer the sands, – the 4x4 Nissan Patrol and Land Rover. The best way to enjoy the beauty of the desert landscape is to go on a safari adventure and hold on tight for some adrenaline-fuelled dune bashing.
You will for sure break out into whoops of delight and excitement as the SUV climbs up and down a sea of golden dunes.
Al Lahab, Al Madam, Al Awir, and Al Faya are some of the most popular spots for desert safaris near Dubai, and guests will be treated to a nomadic-inspired camp experience.
Here you can connect with Bedouin storytellers, pet Saluki desert dogs, and falcons, and take in views of the sun setting over the vastness of the rolling dunes. Back in the camp, ladies can have a beautifully drawn henna tattoo, mastered by local Bedu women.
Traverse the Desert on a Camel
If you love the desert, a ride in a caravan of camels will be the perfect way to soak yourself in a truly authentic Arabian experience.
For centuries, camels have been a key part of the UAE’s rich heritage and they are very much loved by Emiratis. Hop on the back of these soft, gentle creatures and they will carry you on a bumpy ride across the dunes with magnificent sights of the scenery and the horizon. Don’t be surprised if they wander off through the acacia trees that line the desert landscape for a bite to eat and a bit of respite.
Falconry is art for the Emirati people, a strong heritage symbol, and an integral part of Bedouin and desert life.
The Emiratis are proud to show off their falcons as the fastest, most agile bird in the world. You can find and interact with these lovely birds in many desert camps, or if you wish to see the Saqr falcons, head over the north, to Ras Al Khaimah.
The locals will be delighted to show you traditional falcon training techniques and teach you about the importance of falconry in the region. It is a lovely feeling to have the falcons sitting on your gloved hand and feel their velvety-soft feathers as you pet them.
Arabian horses are the most majestic creatures, upholding traditional Emirati values of honour, pride, and nobility. They are deeply loved and revered by locals for their elegant, powerful aura, and Dubai is home to one of the most famous stables in the world – Godolphin Stables.
If you are ready to saddle up and traverse the dunes on horseback, Al Jiyad and Al Ali Stables in Dubai have over 120 Arabian horses ready for you, and they will have you all prepped up for the occasion.
The Emiratis cherish their traditions and love to share them with the world and preserve their authenticity, even in the face of the rapid change and development that the UAE has witnessed in the past five decades.
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