Introduction to SMCCUThe Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understand-ing (SMCCU) is a non-profit organisation established to increase awareness and understanding between the vari-ous cultures that live in Dubai. Established under the pa-tronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum in 1998, we operate under the banner of Open Doors, Open Minds. whilst striving to remove the barrier between people of different nationalities and raise awareness of the local culture, customs and religion of the United Arab Emirates.
When people arrive in the UAE, many do not know what to expect nor do they have a real understanding of Emi-rati culture. In fact, there are many expatriates who have lived and worked in the UAE for years and are yet to meet an Emirati, says SMCCUs Director and founder, Mr. Abdullah Bin Eisa Al Serkal.
The programmes offered by SMCCU can help explain the customs, culture, religion and etiquette within the context of Emirati culture.
Our sole aim is to welcome non-Emiratis into UAE culture and give them a chance to truly integrate within Emirati society. It is the goal of SMCCU to be the initial step for all people entering the UAE, and SMCCU will undoubtedly enhance working and living experience here.
Cultural BreakfastsSMCCU continued its extremely popular tradition of host-ing guests for Cultural Breakfasts in our traditional wind-tower house in Bastakiya, Bur Dubai. In 2010, SMCCU increased the number of breakfasts hosted from once to twice weekly, meaning in an average year we now host approximately 100 Cultural Breakfasts during which guests chat with a Emirati host and ask questions about local customs and heritage. In 2010, SMCCU hosted:
1159 guests in public breakfasts 402 guests in private breakfasts
In total, 1561 guests participated in SMCCUs Cultural Breakfast programme in 2010.
A private group from the Dubai International Film Festival visiting SMCCU for breakfast in December 2010.
The largest single party SMCCU hosted for a private breakfast in 2010 was group of 60 Australian missionaries who were visiting Dubai and keen to find out more about Emirati religion and culture.
Additionally, we also hosted various other parties for private Cultural Breakfasts including groups from: the Universal American School (Dubai), Japanese journalists, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Guests of the Dubai World Cup, the Emirates Foundation and the College of Arabic & Islamic Studies
A private group of Australian missionaries listen to a presentation by SMCCUs General Manager Mr. Nasif Kayed.
SMCCU also continued its extremely popular tradition of hosting guests for Cultural Lunches in our traditional windtower house in Bastakiya, Bur Dubai.
As with the breakfast programmes, SMCCU increased the number of lunches hosted from once to twice weekly, meaning in an average year we now host approximately 100 Cultural Lunches during which guests chat with an Emirati host and ask questions about local customs and heritage.
In 2010, SMCCU hosted:
1183 guests in public lunches 456 guests in private lunches
In total, 1639 guests participated in SMCCUs Cultural Lunch programme in 2010.
Students from The Japanese School pose with their Emirati host on SMCCUs rooftop terrace.
The largest number we catered for at a public Lunch was 34 people, and the largest group we hosted for a private breakfast was a group of 50 students from Hult International Business School (Dubai).
Some notable groups that SMCCU hosted for private Cultural Lunch include: Thunderbird Uni-versity (USA), guests from the Dubai World Cup, students from Duke University (USA), students from the Japanese School and guests from The Ibrahim Leadership & Dialogue Project in the Middle East from Washington (DC), USA.
Students from the College of Islamic + Arabic Studies enjoy lunch alongside other guests at SMCCU.
Bastakiya Walking & Heritage Tours
Our Bastakiya Walking Tours continue to be a popular option for people who want to learn more about the older areas of Dubai.
The walking tour lasts for around 40 minutes and takes place in the Bastakiya area surrounding SMCCU. The tour is followed by a 20 minute Question & Answer ses-sion with Arabic coffee and dates hosted by our guide at the SMCCU house.
In 2010, SMCCU hosted a total of 847 guests on guided walks through the Bastakiya area.
Private groups included representatives from Shell Pe-troleum, West Virginia University (USA), the Dubai Inter-national Film Festival, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and The Emirates Foundation.
A guest from the Dubai International Film Festival holds a falcon whilst touring the Bastakiya with SMCCU.
In the summer of 2010 SMCCU introduced the Bastakiya Heritage Tour which is a Bastakiya Walking Tour plus a 30 minute guided visit inside the Bastakiya Mosque. This was created in order to meet the growing demand from people who did not have the time to visit both the Jumeirah Mosque and the Bastakiya area but were keen to learn as much about local culture and religion as possible.
Starting from June 2010, SMCCU hosted 252 people on Bastakiya Heritage Tours. Special groups included visitors from Adidas, Woollongong University Principle, missionaries from Australia and students from Regent International School.
Students from the Regent International School watch an SMCCU presenter demonstrate a prayer inside the Bastakiya masjid.
Ramadan 2010: Iftar Dinners
The Iftar Dinners are a seasonal event held in the holy month of Ramadan. During the months of August and September 2010, SMCCU invited guests to join a tradi-tional breaking-of-the-fast meal at our traditional wind tower house in Bastakiya, Bur Dubai in order to learn about the Islamic tradition of fasting and prayer.
Following the meal, guests are guided on a casual walk around the beautiful and historical Bastakiya neighbour-hood, and watch and learn about Ramadan prayer rituals.
In 2010, SMCCU hosted a total of 1,040 guests for Iftar during Ramadan.
Spanning August and September 2010, SMCCU hosted 641 guests at public Iftar celebrations as well as 399 guests at private Iftar celebrations in our historical wind tower house in Bastakiya, Bur Dubai.
Guests chat with a volunteer at SMCCUs Iftar dinner during Ramadan 2010.
Mosque Visits - Jumeirah Mosque
In an effort to demystify Islam and educate visitors on the role of religion in UAE society, SMCCU hosts guided vis-its of mosques, or masjids, in Dubai.
Over the past ten years, the Jumeirah Mosque has be-come a focal point of SMCCUs Open Doors, Open Minds practice as it is the only working masjid in Dubai which is open to the public and dedicated to receiving non-Muslim guests.
In 2010, SMCCU hosted a total of 20,224 guests at our public mosque visit. Additionally, we also hosted 6,397 guests on private mosque visits meaning that in 2010, SMCCU hosted a total number of 26,621 guests on our educational mosque visits.
Under SMCCUs Freedom to Ask policy, no question is off limits and guests are encouraged to ask as many questions as possible in order to clarify common misconceptions about Islam. We have hosted groups ranging from Emirates Airlines to public school groups aiming to increase students awareness of the role which plays in Emirati culture and life.
Some notable groups that SMCCU hosted for Mosque visit include: Australian Intl School Sharjah, New York Uni Abu Dhabi Campus, The Japanese School of Dubai, Jaguar Land Rovers + British Airways representatives.
Guests queue up outside the Jumeirah Mosque for a guided tour open to the public.
In an extension of SMCCUs Mosque visit programmes and in order to make our visits more accessible to every-one, non-Muslims can now also have guided visits to the Bastakiya Mosque in Bur Dubai by pre arrangement. We have also developed an educational programme exclu-sively for schools at the Grand Mosque in Rashidiya.
Mosque Visits - Rashidiya / Bastakiya
Regent School At Bastakiya Masjid
Corporate Partnership Programme in 2010
In an effort to achieve team building and social harmony in the workplace, SMCCU launched a campaign offering customized Cultural Partnership Program to all institu-tions wishing to enhance their current induction programs for UAE-based staff in 2011. These programs contribute towards fulfilling corporate social responsibility objectives and provide staff with exceptional experiences and insight in to local customs and culture of the UAE.
Each cultural program is unique, and incorporates SMC-CUs Freedom to Ask policy under which no question is off limits. Participants can engage in activities from cultural meals, heritage tours, Mosque visits and Arabic classes, all of which are hosted in the historical Bastakiya district of Bur Dubai. UAE-based companies who choose to partner with SMCCU can be sure that their employees will directly benefit from cultural awareness training which will improve business tactics in the Middle East.
Some notable groups that SMCCU hosted for private Cultural Lunch include: Adidas, GEMS World Academy, Australian Missionaries, West Virginia Univercity, Nestle ME etc..
If you would like to enquires further about this programs, please contact us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or 04 353 6666.
SMCCU representative Souad with Nestle Team for Cultural Awareness Training in 2010.
Cultural Awareness Presentations and Special Events in 2010
SMCCU hosts Cultural Awareness Presentations (CAPs) for companies to introduce the customs, cultural and heri-tage of the UAE. In 2010, SMCCU hosted 2,126 guests for Cultural Awareness Presentations.
We also host special events across Dubai, including au-thentic cultural themes and dancing to traditional food and educational seminars on Emirati and Islamic history. Highlights of SMCCU special events in 2010 include our participation at the Arabian Travel Market, and a tradi-tional Emirati tent set up in Ibn Bhuttuta Mall during Ra-madan.
In 2010, SMCCU hosted a total of 388 guests for private dinners and cultural awareness training.
In a presentation by SMCCUs General Manager Mr. Nasif Kayed.
In a presentation by SMCCUs General Manager Mr. Nasif Kayed.
In addition to SMCCUs regular programmes, we also have been offering Spoken Gulf Arabic classes for over eight years. Small class sizes available on week days or weekends in which our students learn traditional Khaliji Arabic, the dialect spoken in the GCC states in the Arab Gulf.
In 2010, SMCCU hosted several series of weekly classes with a total of 33 participants learning how to speak Khaliji Arabic.
Looking forward to 2011, SMCCU will be launching ex-panded Arabic programs, offering both Classical Arabic classes and private classes for institution wishing to train-ing their staff in Arabic language skills both in and outside of the workplace. For further information on these pro-grams, please contact us directly on email@example.com or 04 353 6666.
Spoken Gulf Arabic Classes
Three students from a Spoken Gulf Arabic class hold up their prizes for top marks in front of SMCCUs traditional wind tower house in Bastakiya, Bur Dubai.
Special GuestsIn 2010, SMCCU hosted several notable guests, all of whom were welcomed under our philosophy of Open Doors, Open Minds.
Notable guests of SMCCUs programmes in 2010 include American pop singer Beyonce Knowles, Mr. Doug Trap-pett who serves as the Australian Ambassador to the UAE, representatives from the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) and guests from the World Ship Visit pro-gramme!
American pop singer Beyonc Knowles visiting SMCCUs Jumeirah Mosque in November 2010.
Australian Ambassador Mr. Doug Trappett meeting visiting SMCCU.
Guests from Dubai International Film Festival enjoying a Cultural Breakfast at SMCCU.
Guests from the Ship of the World Youth visiting SMCCU.
Future Projects for 2011SMCCU has a lot of exciting plans for 2011, including opening a permanent Visitors Centre at Jumeirah Mosque which could receive guests outside of tour hours.
This Majlis will be used for various cultural programmes as a way of making the UAEs culture, traditions and reli-gion more accessible to everyone.
Also, we are planning on operating more SMCCUs cul-tural activities across the Bastakiya neighborhood in Bur Dubai.
Main entrance to the Majlis The Majlis next to Jumeirah Mosque
Also in the works for 2011, SMCCU is planning on offer-ing a traditional desert venue for guests to visit and enjoy an authentic and entertaining Bedouin Tent experience!
In addition to our current cultural training scheme which includes Cultural Awareness Presentations and Cultural Partnership Programs, SMCCU is planning to launch a Policy Advisory Service in 2011, which will include cul-tural advice for international corporations doing business in the UAE.
Finally, SMCCU will be expanding on a current program with Emirates Airlines to provide regular Cultural Aware-ness Presentations and training for new staff entering into the UAE. The is a valuable program, ensuring that SMC-CU is the first step which foreigners take when integrating and being welcomed to life in the UAE. If you would like to become involved in any of these proj-ects, please contact us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or 04 353 6666.
SMCCU Volunteers for 2011
We rely on bright, outgoing UAE nationals to make our programs as dynamic and exciting as they are. If you are interested in being part of this unique opportunity to intro-duce your culture to the world, please contact us directly on email@example.com or 04 353 6666.
Volunteers: Mohamad, Abdula G., Humaid and Abdula A. at SMCCU in 2010.
SMCCU volunteers Hanna, Souad and Himian. SMCCU volunteers
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural UnderstandingTel: +9714 3536666, Fax: +9714 3536661, E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.cultures.ae
Come and experience our Open Doors. Open Minds activities