By Gabrielle Chaux
When thinking about tourism in the UAE, many clichés might come to your mind. But apart from modern buildings, manmade islands and sandy beaches, the UAE has a rich cultural heritage. Gigantic Mosques, archeological sites, lush gardens… the country offers a large palette of cultural must-sees. Today’s blog brings awareness about 5 such major cultural sites engaged in the transmission of local traditions and heritage.
If you are passing through the UAE, these sites are worth the detour!
Al Bidya Mosque
Perched on Fujairah’s mountainous coastline, Al Bidya is a UNESCO site and the oldest Mosque in the UAE. Made of mud and bricks, this house of worship would date back to the mid-15th century, but its origin remains unclear. The Mosque is only 53 sqm and has 4 domes. Since its restoration in 2008, devotees and visitors are free to enter this sacred and mysterious place.
Located in the heart of Dubai, the Jumeirah Mosque opened its doors in 1979 to people of all faiths eager to learn more about Islam and the Emirati culture. Influenced by the traditional Fatimid style, the Mosque is entirely made of white stone and can shelter up to 1,200 worshippers. Curious visitors can opt for the 75-mins guided tour during which they are invited to immerse in the Islamic traditions and engage an open dialogue with the guide.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an architectural wonder featuring unique characteristics such as 24-carat-gold gilded chandeliers and 82 domes. Located in the UAE’s capital city, Abu Dhabi, it is the largest place of worship in the region where 50,000 people can be accommodated. The name of the Mosque takes its roots from the UAE’s first President, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Ethics to enter a Mosque
Visiting a mosque is an opportunity to open your mind by learning about Islam and its practices. However, a mosque is a place of contemplation so, adopting a respectful behavior is primordial. So, here are the basic rules and ethics to follow before entering. Visitors must dress modestly with clothes covering shoulders, arms and legs. Women must also cover their heads and their clothes should be loose to conceal the body shape. Shoes must be removed at the entrance. Lastly, food, drinks, and cigarettes cannot be brought inside.
The Quranic Park is the only park in the world featuring excerpts and references to the Quran. Since its opening in 2019, the park welcomes visitors in a 64-hectare verdurous space home to a diverse flora. The park is divided in four sections: the Cave of Miracles, the Greenhouse, the Lake, and the Orchards. If you need your dose of peaceful verdant space, make a stop at the Quranic Park, the entrance is completely free!
In response to the current environmental concerns, an eco-friendly technology has been integrated to supply electricity in the park. In fact, aesthetic solar trees using solar energy have been installed to illuminate the walkways giving a wonderful display. Moreover, free water refilling stations are available in the park. Launched by the Crown Prince of Dubai, this initiative is coming to life all around the Emirate and helps to reduce the use of plastic bottles by refillable ones.
Hili Archeological Park
Ten kilometers away from Al Ain, Hili Archeological Park combines a park and the vestige of an ancient agricultural village. The site has been excavated in the 1960’s by a group of Danish archaeologists. Since then, the site is open to visitors that can admire ancient settlements, tombs, and agricultural infrastructure from the earliest known evidence of a village in the UAE dated back to the Bronze Age (3,000 BCE).