Party every week away in Dubai…
Dubai really is party central.
I don’t mean in terms of being full of party animals (although there are some of those as well). I mean that Dubai is a multicultural melting pot where you get to enjoy party season for most of the religious, cultural and sporting events across the world.
It’s a place where you can find something festive and cultural to do almost any day of the week. This is testament to Dubai’s amazing ability to embrace all things multicultural. The society of tolerance and harmony is not just promoted here – it’s lived.
Come with me on a short journey through the last few months as an example.
Diwali – Hindu festival of light
One of the major festivals of Hinduism, Diwali spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. During this time, people decorate their homes, windows and shop fronts with lights and candles.
In Dubai, given there is such a large Indian population, there are mini Diwali celebrations all over the place.
As I sit here writing this, there are fireworks going off all around our building. There are many houses surrounding us covered in lights and there are many lights and candles in apartment windows. Even the family in the apartment next to ours has set up an elaborate Rangoli decoration on the ground to welcome family and friends.
And at work, everybody gets dressed up in beautiful Sari’s and other traditional dress, decorates offices and enjoys lunchtime feasts of traditional food. It’s such a happy festive time, it’s hard not to get swept up, even when you have no idea what it’s all about.
I have definitely learned more about this festival and the joy it spreads, not just to Hindus who celebrate, but to anyone who happens to be around.
Halloween – spooky party
This tradition started with Christians remembering the dead including saints, martyrs and other faithful departed. It evolved into a fun tradition of trick-or-treating, dress ups and general mischief across many countries.
In Australia, we never really celebrated Halloween. In fact, there was quite a bit of backlash against it by a lot of people who considered it a North American tradition. The last few years marked an increase in Halloween related party-type activities but it never became mainstream.
Dubai is one place I really didn’t expect to see a big Halloween following.
Just this last weekend, we have been out and about at various locations and we have been followed around by little ghosts, witches, devils and other appropriately costumed people of various ages. Shops are decorated in cobwebs and jack-o-lanterns and the coffee shop at our work has spooky treats for sale.
It’s a little bit bizarre in many ways but once again, so nice to see another tradition embraced for everyone’s enjoyment.
Christmas is obviously huge in most countries of Christian tradition.
Once again, this was a celebration I never expected to see in Dubai. But it comes up with the goods yet again.
All the malls are decked out in Christmas decorations. There are numerous Christmas markets and festivals around the city. Souk Madinat, fully deck out the souk area with a Christmas party theme. This includes fake snow, stalls selling roasted chestnuts, gifts and reindeer. The real deal.
And whilst Christmas day is not a public holiday here, there are an endless array of options for a lovely traditional Christmas dinner at the various hotels and restaurants across the city. Christmas trees shine in many windows and there are lights everywhere around the city.
So northern hemisphere expats with a tendency to get slightly depressed when away from the cold at this time of year, be not depressed in Dubai. You can still find places to drown sorrows, freeze little toes and sip gluhwein in peace.
For us Aussies who love a good beach Christmas, we can certainly feel at home here. You can still enjoy the feast of prawns and sparkling grapes on the beach on Christmas day (if you take the day off that is…)
Eid al Fitr is the festival to mark of the end of Ramadan, where Eid al Adha is the festival of the sacrifice. Both are holy festivals marked by much prayer and family activities, but there’s also a festive feel across the city.
People dress up in their best clothes to go out and socialise. It’s also a time of generosity as part of the tradition is that families share food with those less fortunate.
In Dubai, there’s also usually many different activities on including fireworks displays, concerts, markets and lots of different family friendly events.
Once again, growing up in Australia where we didn’t know any people of the Muslim faith, we were never exposed to these festivals. I (probably very ignorantly really given how many countries have large Muslim populations around the world) was not even aware that these significant festivals existed. It’s been really nice to hang out with some local Emirati’s and find out about their traditions and celebrations.
Arts, sports, music and literature
Dubai is host to a huge array of other non-religious events as well. Some of these include the:
- Festival of literature
- Jazz Festival
- Rugby Sevens
- Dubai Food Festival
- Art Dubai
- DP World Tour Golf championship
- Horseracing – lots of it!
So there you have it. A short list of some of the recent celebrations we’ve enjoyed being part of the last few months.
One thing I have realised is that most of these religious and cultural traditions are all essentially about the same thing – faith, families and being together. Even though the faiths might be different, the focus on spending time with loved ones and having fun together is shared.
By joining in, learning something about each other and sharing traditions, I believe we can all keep moving towards more peaceful co-existence in the future.
We also enjoy some of the public holidays that go along with these celebrations of course… hehehe
And so, happy Diwali for this week!
Look forward to sharing whatever is going to be next week…