Abu Dhabi launches authentic Emirati experiences with local guides

Abu Dhabi launches authentic Emirati experiences with local guides

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has created a list of seven authentic Emirati cultural experiences visitors are recommended to try on a visit to the emirate. The experiences, created in collaboration with Emirati tour guides, will be featured on Airbnb, the global holiday rental website, offering residents and visitors the opportunity to delve deeper into the UAE’s history and heritage.

Abdulrahman Al Zaabi, one of the city’s dedicated Emirati tour guides, was inspired to share his city with tourists after travelling the world and learning about different cultures and traditions through the destination’s local citizens. “In Abu Dhabi, Emirati representation is vital when it comes to guiding guests through the city,” he said. “So, seeing the need for more, I decided to take it upon myself and pursue that. Being a tour guide gives me a lot of insight into my own culture, something people expect us to know by nature, but we often don’t realize how much we don’t know. As much as I am helping our visitors learn about our valued Emirati culture, discovering the hidden gems of the city and its people, I’m also learning a lot myself.”

Local guide Nasser Sabaan became a tour guide after volunteering around Abu Dhabi and realising that many expat residents have only scratched the city’s surface. Talking about his motivations, he said: “Residents, even after living in Abu Dhabi for a long time, still don’t know a lot about the history and culture of their adopted home. By becoming a tour guide, I am proudly representing my city, educating and informing those interested all about the unique identity of the UAE, its authentic culture and historical traditions.”

Diversifying his business offering, tour guide Ebrahim Al Harbi switched his focus from outbound travel to inbound, creating unique, tailored experiences that tell the story behind Abu Dhabi and its formation. “I am extremely proud to represent my country to a world audience,” he explained. “Thus far, I have served nearly 70 different nationalities since 2018, sharing a historical narrative that combines land and sea. With my tour experience to the local fish and date markets, together we discover the significance of the ocean in the creation of Abu Dhabi and regaling stories from pearl diving and how fishing was, and still is, an important resource for the Emirati family. With the dates market, we explore the importance of date palm farming and how the fruit has become a staple in Emirati cuisine and a healthy source of nutrition.”

Available to book from 4 November 2022 onwards, the experiences cover traditional cuisine, bustling souqs, thrilling sports and unforgettable sights, including:

  • Savour a traditional meal with an Emirati:Embark on a culinary journey of the UAE with a traditional meal, shared in an Emirati home. The intimate dining experience allows guests to sample local dishes infused with spices and ingredients sourced from across Asia and the Middle East, reflecting the UAE’s strong trading heritage.
  • Visit a local ranch with an Emirati: Take part in an Arabic coffee (gahwa) and dates educational experience with a visit to a local ranch. Learn about selecting and preparing gahwa, discover the different kinds of animals raised by Bedouins, the etiquette for the Majlis forums, as well as experiencing traditional Emirati songs and dances.
  • Discover the local date and fish markets with an Emirati:Visit a market to explore the vast variety of dates, while discovering the cultural significance of the fruit. Also, take a tour of the Abu Dhabi Fish Market, a bustling marketplace crowded with restaurants, wholesalers and visitors, to learn about the UAE’s seafaring past, while watching local fishermen unload their catch of the day.
  • Enjoy a homemade Emirati breakfast:Savour local breakfast dishes such as chebab (crispy Emirati pancakes topped with date syrup or honey) and gahwa, and discover the cultural nuances and activities by trying on traditional clothes, sampling incense and learning about the art of ‘Sanaa’, the unspoken gestures and set behaviours that Emiratis learn from a young age.
  • Take an Urban Treasure tour:A lively tour of Abu Dhabi’s neighbourhoods to learn about the city’s ‘Urban Treasures’ – the longstanding establishments, including markets, shops and restaurants, which have played a crucial role in shaping the urban culture of the destination. These include Al Ibrahimi Restaurant, Malik & Shaheed Stores, Fish Market, Carpet Souq and many more.
  • Tour Abu Dhabi by night:Learn about the rise of the modern cosmopolitan heart of the destination on a night-time tour of the city. Meet before the sun goes down on the Corniche, where Emirati guides will share stories of the rise of the city’s iconic skyline as the sun sets, followed by a stop at the Founder’s Memorial, with the tour ending at the Qasr Al Watan light show.

A destination packed with heritage-rich experiences, a bustling contemporary art and culture scene, exhilarating family fun attractions, and a diverse culinary landscape, Abu Dhabi is the ultimate holiday destination for inspiring, exciting and restorative experiences.

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