The Date Palm tree.
Reading Time: 3 minutes
The Date Palm tree.
The Date Palm tree.

Many of the newly appointed educators who will be coming to the UAE will have been scouring the social network sites in search of useful information about their soon-to-be home. Crucial topics would include what to expect in a UAE school, what laws govern the land and the true nature of the culture.

In a recent visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (SZGM), some useful information related to the norms of UAE living were discovered.  In this special feature of In the UAE, we highlight some facts about the UAE’s leadership, national dress, national tree and the importance of the date palm tree.

First President of the UAE

The late HH, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is credited as being the founder of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The country is a federation of seven emirates and was formed in 1971. The emirates are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ra’s al-Khaimah and Umm al-Quwain. The capital of the UAE is Abu Dhabi.

Current President          

HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Current Vice President and Prime Minister

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai.

Language: Arabic is the national language of the UAE.

Religion: Islam is the largest and the official state religion of the UAE.

Place of worship: Masjid (mosque). The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the official mosque of the country. It is named after the founder and first president of the UAE.

National Day: December 2

Currency: Emirati dirham (dhs or AED)

National Dress
Helal (Left) and Ali show off their national dress and the different ways in which Emirati men wear their guthrah.

National Dress:

The National Dress is a symbol of national identity and tradition. Most Emirati men wear a floor length white garment called a Kandura. The white headscarf known as guthrah (or keffiyeh) is held in place by a double black chord called the igal (or agal). The guthrah provides protection from sunburn, sand and dust.

In public, women wear an abaya, which is a floor length thin black robe; a thin black scarf called a hijab is used to cover their hair and neckline. Some women also wear a niqab, which is designed to cover the mouth and nose, leaving only the eyes exposed.

The National Tree:

The Ghaf tree (prosopis cineraria) is the national tree of the UAE. This is a drought tolerant evergreen tree and is considered to be perhaps the sturdiest tree of the harsh desert environment. 

The most highly valued tree in the Arab world:

The date palm tree (Phoenix dactylifera) is the most highly valued tree in the Arab world where the fruit has been a staple for many years. Here are a few of the ways in which the date palm is used:

  • It provides shade from the sun.
  • The date fruit, which is eaten fresh or dry, is also used in gourmet dishes.
  • The seeds are used to feed animals.
  • Pots, fans and mats can be made from its leaves.
  • Traditionally the trunk has been used in building construction as ceilings and columns.
  • It is used as a source of fuel.
  • Dates are used for medicinal purposes such as for the treatment of cold, fever; aiding digestion and improving hair growth.

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