:: PERANTO USING THE EXAMPLE OF DUBAI

There are many exciting things to discover
in Dubai in terms of the country and the people..
Sorted according to the eight topics of the game,
it’s very easy to find out what children in Dubai
like to eat, what they find funny, and why
gummy bears are slightly different there.

01) “I like to play music” :: as far as musical tastes go, Dubai is a typical Arabian country that possesses plenty of chanting accompanied by flutes and drums. However, listening to modern music allows people to hear that Arabs actually make up less than 30% of Dubai's population.
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Since the 8th century A.D., various Arabian princes have ruled not only Dubai and the other Arabian emirates, they have also ruled parts of Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Spain. The Arabian and Islamic culture spread together with them, and numerous battles are still able to be traced in today's traditional songs and dances.

Popular "Ayyalahs" include up to 200 men, who form two opposing "lines of troops", dance to drums and tambourines, swing their swords, and alternate reciting poems. The "Haban" is a dance that is especially popular at weddings. Eight men stand facing eight women, and they are led by a group of musicians. The haban, which is an Arabian string instrument, is played alongside the drummers to provide the rhythm, and the dancers move forwards and backwards in double steps. The respective genders are not permitted to touch each other, but men and women regularly hold each other's hands or lock arms during dancing.

Besides this, many other kinds of music can also be heard on Dubai's streets. Over 40% of the population comes from India, and naturally, their children often play completely different instruments, for example the "sitar". Dubai is no longer just an oil country, it's also a tourism destination, and classical music can be heard in the very elegant hotels located along the beaches of Jumeirah, and western pop music can be heard there at night.

Of course, there's also Arabian pop music. When observed from the outside, the Arabian culture is often considered to be anti-woman, but the most popular pop star of the United Arab Emirates is a woman, namely Ahlam Ali Al Ahamsi, or "Ahlam" for short. And by the way, she doesn't wear a single veil over her face in any of her music videos, but her dancers certainly don't wear hot pants or tops featuring deep necklines, since she has to maintain at least this much respect for her own culture; a performance in the style of Rihanna would be a slap in the face for both men AND women.

02) “I like to eat” :: children in Dubai also like eating sweets. But several treats like gummy bears need to be produced in a very different way for children in Dubai.
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Gummy figures of all kinds are actually made of gelatine. Gelatine is also partially made using the bones of pigs, and pigs are animals that strictly may not be eaten in Islamic countries because they are considered "unclean" in Islam, or "haram" in Arabic. For this reason, the gummy bears that children eat in Dubai are produced using fish or beef gelatine and may therefore be called "halal", which is permitted for Muslims. Nevertheless, the children in Dubai often eat Arabian sweets like puff pastries, cakes, and puddings made of figs and nuts combined with syrup and honey. The most typical ingredient is the date, the fruit of a palm tree which has been a part of the diet of people in Dubai for millennia. There are many different types of date, and not only are they added to pastries, date lovers also use them to produce pralines, honey, and sparkling wine. Sweet, black Agwa dates are especially popular, since their colour is the same as the Kaaba in Mecca, which is the most important holy artefact in Islam. On the Arabian Peninsula, dates are called "Thamar", and because they are also considered to be slightly sweet, pleasant, and very pretty, many girls are named after them. During the occupation of Spain, the Arabs brought this name to Europe during the middle ages. Even in Germany today, many girls are named "Tamara" – the pretty date.

In spite of numerous religious decrees, Muslims are not forbidden from eating meat; on the contrary, Arabian cuisine features a large selection of marinated, grilled, and stewed meat dishes consisting of chicken, lamb, beef, or fish. The range of appetizers is even larger, many of which always arrive at the table at the same time. Vegetables are seasoned using exotic spices and fried, pureed, and marinated, and salads, beans, and grains are fished out of small bowls using flat bread to land directly in your mouth. With so many tempting dishes, it's important to make sure you leave room for more.

But even if they are stuffed, guests should be weary of emptying their plate in front of their host; a guest's plate will automatically be refilled until the master of the house is finished eating. It's better to leave a little left over in case you want to show that you are full.

03) “I like painting” :: because of the religious decree that "no image may be created of God himself or his creation", painting in the way that we understand it is regarded as blasphemy by some Arabian families.
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Islam regulates many more everyday things than the ten Christian commandments do. For example, Muslims aren't allowed to eat pork or drink alcohol, they are required to pray five times every day after having washed their hands, face, and feet, women must protect themselves against looks from men with head coverings and loose clothing, and everyone is obligated to give alms to the poor. Additional commandments like "do not kill, steal, or commit adultery" are also repeated in the Bible, which shows that most of these rules are simply included just to make life with others easier. Don't forget that these rules were developed when people's lives were basically concerned with survival, and anyone who has spent a full day without a hat in the sun where the temperature is 35° in the shade will certainly understand the origin of the requirement of a head covering.

In any case, Muslims clearly still maintain these traditions much more strongly than followers of other religions. And this also applies to illustrations of people and animals, which was strictly forbidden. That's the reason why Arabian art is teeming with fantastic ornaments and wonderful calligraphy (pictograms), which decorate palaces and mosques. Besides that, art lessons are now a permanent part of the curriculum at all schools in the United Arab Emirates, which means that it simply isn't the case that painting isn't allowed at all. 

Dubai has a special attitude towards this thanks to the extremely high number of foreigners living there, which is more than 70%. Since in addition to the numerous Arabian schools, there are also Indian, English, American, Russian, French, German, and other international schools. Depending on what is considered normal in their respective country, art lessons are also offered at these schools. And since many Arabs in Dubai are actually very open and the education of their children is very important to them, these children do not necessarily attend Arabian schools, but rather the best possible schools.

04) “I like exercising” :: whether it was the dominant position of Britain in many Arabian countries or simply the nature of the sport itself is unclear, but football is also one of the most popular sports in Dubai, and many boys follow it passionately.
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Mainly boys, but girls and women have also won the right to play football, and there is currently even a ladies' football team in the United Arab Emirates. And besides football, an astonishing number of young women play some kind of sport, of course while wearing a head scarf, the loosest possible clothing, and long pants, if they come from a religious Muslim family. Both girls and boys play basketball, tennis, and rugby. They box, play football, swim, and play golf. They play separately from each other, which isn't really much different than we know it.

This city state also possesses unbelievable diversity in terms of recreational activities, and hardly any other country can keep up. Besides the super-clean beach, there are also gigantic bathing landscapes, sports stadiums, and the largest covered ski hall in the world. In Dubai, everything looks bigger and more fantastic than anywhere else in the world: the "Sports City", for example, is home to four sports arenas that are positioned directly next to each other, seven sports academies, the "Burj Khalifa" is 828 meters tall and the tallest building in the world, and the largest artificial island in the world, which is called "The Palm", is also located in Dubai. It's called this because it was designed in the shape of a palm, and it has increased the beach at Dubai by another 100 kilometres.

By the way, that was the exact purpose of the island, since more and more tourists are heading to the city to enjoy the luxury there. Plus, it also means a room with a view of the ocean is available to nearly everyone. The reigning emir, Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, had the island built as a way to replace oil with tourism as a source of income. For a long time, oil was the only thing that made this desert land interesting to other countries, but even oil wells run dry some time, and it's a good idea to be prepared for this.

The ocean offers locals and athletes from around the world every opportunity to enjoy themselves. Jet skiing and kite surfing are also popular, and many inhabitants own their own motor and sailboats. But there's also plenty of excitement in the desert, for example during "dune bashing", an adventurous hobby where drivers race over the sand dunes in their jeep and all of the passengers end up covered in sand. 

Besides this activity, camel and horse races are considered traditional Arabian sports. The annual horse races in Dubai are therefore the best opportunity to collect the most valuable prizes. On the other hand, things can get very emotional during the camel races. Camels used to be one of the greatest treasures that an Arab could own, and today, many important sheiks finance racing and care of these animals. There are currently around 14,000 racing camels in the United Arab Emirates, and all of them need to be cared for and nourished.

Only girls and women are permitted to participate in another typical Arabian recreational activity: belly dancing! In spite of everything that men are not allowed to see of Arabian women, this dance and the clothing connected with it are surprising. In any case, the dance was never intended as a form of entertainment for men, since women mainly danced in the past and dance now among themselves. Furthermore, they don't dance in transparent clothing or with their bellies bare like professional belly dancers often do in western countries.

05) “I like learning” :: the number of computers in Dubai’s schools alone is proof of the fact that the country is very modern in comparison with other Islamic countries, as far as education is concerned.
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The school system in other countries of the United Arab Emirates makes sure that five children in grammar school share at least one computer, two children share one computer in subsequent schools, and at universities, each student has access to their own computer. Year one pupils already begin their studies with subjects involving Arabian and Islamic culture, since Islam is the state religion and a guideline for life itself. And because Islam very strongly emphasises obedience to one's parents and other adults, students are generally well-behaved and conscientious.

This certainly looks very similar at the countless private schools in Dubai, since the parents of these students often have to pay a lot of money, and they expect a lot from their children as a result. As described earlier, there is an extremely high number of foreigners living in Dubai, and there are schools for Indians, Persians, Britons, Americans, and Germans. They follow the curriculum of their respective countries so that the children are able to switch back to a school in their homeland at any time or study there later.

Arabian children in Dubai attend school until at least the sixth grade. Since Dubai is a very rich country and scholastic education at public schools is free like it is here, nearly everyone, even girls, graduate from school to attend post-secondary school. Nevertheless, boys and girls are separately according to Islam. Everyone has the chance to study the same subjects, depending on their age: Arabic, religion, maths, sciences, social studies, and athletics. There's no school on Friday and Saturday, and Sunday isn't a holiday in Islamic countries.

06) “I like laughing” :: the rules imposed by the Sharia, which prescribe Islamic guidelines for everyday life, may seem very serious, but they certainly don't forbid laughter. It just depends on what is considered funny…
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Even the prophet Mohammed is described as a man with a sense of humour and a friendly personality in Islamic holy texts. Making someone laugh is considered a good deed in Islam that will bring you closer to paradise. Of course, care must be taken not to make fun of Islam itself. Relationships are still taboo for many people, and people often prefer to make fun of themselves than to offend others. In any case, people in Dubai are less cautious among friends and family and they are happy to laugh about anything, from politics to celebrities and their own neighbours.

Children there have a completely different taste in jokes than adults do, but they generally love to laugh and make each other laugh, just like we do. Every opportunity is taken to joke around and have fun as much as possible, and this is "tolerated" by parents and friends with as much patience as possible, even with a few chuckles on their own behalf.

Friday is an especially good opportunity to be silly and to chat, the first day of the Islamic weekend. Many families meet with each other for brunch in the numerous restaurant and hotels in the city to take their time dining. For Arabs, family doesn't just mean parents and their children; grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins are included. Anyone who goes out to eat with so many people needs to order in advance, and certainly more than just a single table. On occasions like this, things can get loud and boisterous. Women and children have the most fun, since they are clearly expected to lighten the mood by making jokes, laughing, and chatting with each other. The men tend to hold back with each other in their own circle, listening in and smiling, but without making any large contribution. The same goes for the older boys, since they are preparing for the seriousness of life as the head of the family. On Saturday, people recover from Friday, and on Sunday, everyone goes back to work.

Besides that, there are also funny heroes and comic figures in Arabian culture for young and old to laugh about. For example, stories about the sly Joha have been around since the 10th century, and more stories have been added. Here are a couple of samples:

Joha sat on the edge of the river, and a man called across to him from the opposite side:

"Hey, how do I get across?"

"Why?” asked Joha - "you're already on the other side!"


Or


One day, Joha borrowed a pan from his neighbour. A couple of days later, he gave it back together with a pan that was slightly smaller.

"What is this about?" asked the neighbour.

"Oh, your pan had a baby while it was with me!" answered Joha.

"How wonderful!" exclaimed the neighbour.

One week later, Joha borrowed both of the pans again, but he never brought them back. Sometime later, the neighbour came and asked for his pans.

Joha looked at him sadly and said: "Oh, I'm very sorry, but they died."

"What?" screamed the neighbour, "but pans can't die!"

And Joha answered: "Ah - but they can have babies, right?" 


Or


Joha was sitting in a teahouse when a friend came in very excitedly and said to him: "Joha, I'm going to get married, and I'm so excited! Did you ever think about getting married?"

"Oh, yes, of course I've thought about it! When I was young, I was convinced that I wanted to get married, so I started to look for the perfect wife. First, I travelled to Damascus, and I found a wonderfully beautiful woman, who was gracious, loving, and very religious. But she didn't know anything about day-to-day life. I travelled on to Isfahan, and I found a woman, who was both very religious and very innocent, but also very pretty. But we didn't get along very well. Next, I went to Cairo, and after a long search, I finally found her. A woman who was religious, gracious, and beautiful in every respect, at home in this world, but open to whatever might come afterwards. I had finally found the perfect woman!"

So his friend had to ask him: "So why didn't you marry her, Joha?"

"Hmm," said Joha and shook his head sadly. "Unfortunately, she was looking for the perfect husband!"

07) “I like to cuddle” :: an old Arabian saying states that "a house with a lot of lamps but no children is dark," which describes the level of value placed on children in Arabian families.
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Today, Arabian children also grow up in typical smaller families with parents and other children, but their relationship to their relatives is still much stronger than it is common in Western Europe. Since not only do the parents traditionally take responsibility for caring for and raising the children, but siblings, grandparents, uncles, and aunts also play a big role, and children can approach them with requests and problems. Accordingly, children are pampered and coddled depending on the attention they receive. Hugging, petting, and cuddling are therefore completely normal, even from the father and although the men in the family have the final say at home and can seem very strict. 

Arabian men and women in Dubai would never show their love openly on the street, and they aren't permitted to, but the attraction to children is everywhere; family and the family circle are patient and kind with the youngest members. But that doesn't mean that children don't have to listen to their elders or have any responsibilities. In any case, Dubai's children clearly have things much better than the youth of Arabian families in poorer countries in the Middle East. In some places, the children have to help at home earlier, go out to work in the fields, or find some other kind of work so that money finds its way home.

But Dubai is a very modern and very rich city where children are generally very sheltered and grow up spending plenty of time at school and at play.

08) “I like to play” :: it has been a long time in Dubai since children had to play with whatever they could find in front of their doors at home. Sticks, rags, shells, and stones can still inspire the imagination, but computers are also everywhere.
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As a high-technology city state, Dubai offers its children everything that a modern country could contribute to their entertainment. Besides numerous sports schools, there are certainly more amusement parks and indoor playgrounds than in most countries in the world. One shopping centre has even created an entire city for children, where visitors can fly an airplane or drive a bus, work in a restaurant, or see what it's like to work as a policeman, nurse, or radio commentator. There are also many stores that offer games and toys from Europe, Asia, and America, and the shelves of nurseries there look just like they do here.

In spite of all this abundance, children can still be seen once in a while playing traditional Arabian games, for example "al Qabba". In this game, boys in two opposing teams try to keep a small piece of wood in the air for as long as possible and to bring it as far away as possible from the starting point. This takes place in turns, and after every round, the better player receives a point. Once all the players have taken their turn, the points are counted, and victory goes to the team with the most points.

Storytelling is another tradition that is slowly dying out. Earlier in Dubai and in every other Arabian country, there used to be professional storytellers, who would entertain their countrymen by telling folk legends, heroic sagas, and poems to earn their keep. This is a wonderful way of passing the time when it is too hot outside or once night falls. Today, children escape from the sun by sitting at their computer or at their games console, if they aren't going with their mothers to the wonderful shopping malls or if they aren't visiting one of the many typical "souks". Besides the markets for basic groceries and household articles in Dubai's old city, there are also especially exciting bazaars, for example the gold souk, the perfume souk, or the spice souk. These are also protected from the Sun by large cloth canopies, and dusky twilight reigns in places that are wonderful for playing hide and go seek.

In this way, every part of life in Dubai is characterised by two things: the Arabian-Islamic culture and the technical achievements of our time. Brick houses are dwarfed by skyscrapers, camels make way for air-conditioned automobiles, and wooden figures are replaced by Gameboys. In Dubai, you can also see how the traditional and the modern are able to coexist in harmony and how progress doesn't necessarily have to threaten religion, as is feared in so many Islamic countries.

Realisierung mit TYPO3: golbing.de