Archive for September, 2017

What is Islamic or Hijri New Year

Dubai: The UAE has declared Thursday, September 21, as a public and private sector holiday to celebrate the Islamic New Year, known as the Hijri Year in Arabic.

President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent congratulatory cables to Arab leaders on the advent of the new Hijri year. He wished more progress and prosperity to Arab and Muslim countries.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, dispatched similar cables to presidents, kings and princes of the Arab and Muslim countries on the occasion.

The occasion marks 1,439 years since the migration of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his companions from Makkah to Madinah, Islam’s holiest cities in Saudi Arabia. The first year in the Islamic calendar, Hijri 1, corresponds to the year 622AD.

Hijri is derived from Arabic word Hijrah, which means migration. In the religious context, it specifically refers to the migration of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) more than 14 centuries ago.

Why does the Islamic calendar start with Hijrah; what is the significance of this event?
Khaleeq Ahmad Mufti, an Ajman-based Islamic scholar and author, who also hosts an Islamic show on Sharjah TV, said Hijrah was the “definitive turning point” in the history of Islam.

“In Makkah, before Hijrah, the Muslims were weak, persecuted for their religion. After Hijrah to Madinah, Muslims became strong and successful. This development marked a definitive turning point,” Mufti added.

He explained that Hijrah was not just a historical event, but continues to be an opportunity for introspection.
“Every year, as a new Hijri year begins, we Muslims should ask ourselves, ‘why did Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his companions migrate, leaving everything behind — their homes, their property, and their loved ones?’

“The answer is because they chose to sacrifice worldly gains and comforts for the perseverance of their religion, Islam, which was then in danger in Makkah. This is a message that inspires us to follow Islamic teachings, such as honesty in trading and other traits, above all.”

The Hijri calendar is based on the lunar year, in which months are 29 or 30 days, depending on when the waxing crescent moon is sighted after the new moon. As a result, the Hijri year is shorter than the Gregorian solar year, arriving around 11 days “earlier” after each full cycle.
Last year, the UAE had declared October 2 as a holiday to celebrate Hijri year 1438.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - September 20, 2017 at 10:00 pm

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Al Qasimia University receives delegation of international balloon pilots

SHARJAH, 20th September, 2017 – Al Qasimia University of Sharjah received Captain Pilot Abdulaziz Nasser Al Mansouri, President of the UAE Hot Air Ballooning, with a delegation of international pilots who will operate Hot Air Balloon of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, which is expected to be launched on the 46th UAE National Day.

The balloon will fly over several countries during its first international mission, with the aim of promoting Sharjah’s social and scientific stature that was established by Sheikh Sultan, which has enabled it to compete with major international scientific institutions.

The visiting delegation, which was accompanied by Dr. Rashad Salem, Director of Al Qasimia University, and several other officials, toured the university and viewed its main sections, including the Islamic Manuscripts House that was recently inaugurated, which houses a collection of rare and valuable Islamic manuscripts.

Dr. Salem stated that officials from the university, which was founded in 2014, briefed the visiting delegation, which includes pilots from many countries, about its vision, mission and international goals, as well as its achievements in promoting the values of moderate Islam, such as brotherhood and tolerance, which were achieved through the considerable support of Sheikh Sultan.

Al Mansouri stressed that the national balloon mission is a realisation of the wise directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as well as the efforts and sacrifices of the UAE’s founders. He also highlighted the obvious contributions of Sheikh Sultan in placing the UAE among the most advanced countries in the world.

Al Mansouri added that the inauguration and launch of the balloon of Sheikh Sultan, who is loved by all UAE nationals and residents, will witness a large international turnout during its first launch on the 46th UAE National Day.

The balloon of Sheikh Sultan, which carries his image along with the UAE flag, is equipped with various technical equipment from the United Kingdom, enabling it to ascend and fly over high mountains, including the Alps.

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Dubai Opera launches behind-the-scenes tours

Dubai Opera is opening its impressive performance space to give visitors a behind-the-scenes look.

Much like they can at the Royal Opera House Muscat, visitors to Dubai’s cultural precinct can now go on a tour of the venue, which includes the acoustic concert hall, 2,000-square-metre event space and access to the exclusive VIP suite.

From 10.30am each day, an experienced guide leads each group and offers the stories and facts about the design and creation of Dubai Opera, which in recent weeks celebrated its one-year anniversary.

“Dubai Opera is a new generation of entertainment venue with a fascinating story to tell,” says Jasper Hope, the chief cxecutive at Dubai Opera. “Our new tour is a great way for anyone to spend an hour out of the sun learning what makes an opera house tick.”

Beginning at the external box office and lasting approximately 60 minutes, the tours can be booked by emailing tours@travel-culture.com The tour schedule is available on dubai.travel-culture.com

Adult tickets are Dh75 and children (ages 3 to 16) cost Dh40. Rates for schools are priced at Dh35 per child. Private tours are also available.

Dubai Opera kicked off its season on September 7 with a trio of Mozart’s best-loved operatic masterpieces.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - September 11, 2017 at 10:53 pm

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Camel-racing, modern art in UAE Ambassador in Singapore

Favourite destination: For many, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is synonymous with oil, iconic skyscrapers, mega malls and beach resorts.

However, there are many surprises to be discovered in the seven emirates forming the country, and Abu Dhabi, the capital, is a city of culture, heritage and more for people who want to escape the stresses of life, enjoy the beauty of nature and have a relaxing and exciting break.

SEE

Heritage and culture are central to the UAE’s national identity and there is a deep awareness of the need to preserve the indigenous culture on which Emirati society is based.

Take a tour of historical landmarks such as Qasr Al Hosn (www.qasralhosn.ae/en), or White Palace, which dates back to 1760 and is the oldest stone structure in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It housed the ruling Al Nahyan family for generations and is the spiritual symbol of the UAE. It is now home to a permanent museum and an annual cultural festival.

Another highlight of the city is the wonderful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (www.szgmc.ae/en), also known as the Grand Mosque – the largest mosque in the UAE and the eighth largest in the world.

It can accommodate more than 40,000 people and you will be astonished by the spectacular domes and minarets of its vast white marble edifice. Inside, the mosque offers an awe-inspiring display of Arabic and Islamic architecture and art.

DR MOHAMMED OMAR ABDULLA BALFAQEEH, AMBASSADOR OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES IN SINGAPORE, 52
He and his wife, Mrs Wafa Mohamed Jabran, have lived in Singapore since June last year.

Modern art can be found at the Saadiyat Cultural District Abu Dhabi (www.saadiyatculturaldistrict.ae), an island 500m off the coast of Abu Dhabi, where world-class museums and exhibition halls are located.

It was just announced last week that the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum will open its doors to the public on Nov 11.

The museum will highlight artwork curated by themes and stories that are shared across cultures – from prehistorical objects to modern commissioned artworks. It will be the first museum of its kind in the Arab world.

In addition to the galleries, it will have exhibitions, a Children’s Museum, a restaurant, a boutique and a cafe.

The Manarat Al Saadiyat artistic venue – which hosts international exhibitions and houses three major galleries, a central events gallery, a 250-seat theatre and a restaurant – has been open since 2010.

The Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which will focus on contemporary art from across the globe, will open in a few years.

If you love water, you should visit Corniche Beach. With pristine sand and clear blue water, it is usually bustling with people, particularly on weekends.

Also enjoy the spectacular Sir Bani Yas Island (www.sirbaniyasisland.com), located 170km southwest of Abu Dhabi. The island, which has a bird sanctuary and wildlife reserve, offers activitiessuch as archery, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, snorkelling, land sailing, horse riding and falconry.

About half the island is dedicated to the Arabian Wildlife Park, where more than 13,000 animals, including the Arabian oryx, Somali ostrich, giraffes, hyenas and cheetahs, roam freely. Visitors can go on guided nature and wildlife drives or walks, do horse riding or mountain biking.

The park was founded by the late Sheikh Zayed, the founder of modern UAE, who loved the desert. He used to spend several days in the middle of the desert hunting, and the falcon was both his companion and hunting tool.

Despite the modernity of the UAE, he thought it was important to revive and protect the UAE’s heritage. Thus, the falcon is an official symbol of the country.

Sheikh Zayed also established the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (www.falconhospital.com), the first and largest of its kind. You can tour the hospital and learn more about the magnificent birds, the history of falconry, and see some falcons up close.

EAT

Visitors from Singapore will not have to worry about missing biryani, laksa or teh tarik because you will find plenty of shops and restaurants in Abu Dhabi serving these delights and other familiar dishes.

If you want to try something local, head to Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe (alfanarrestaurant.com/en), a chain owned by a young Emirati who wanted to offer tourists and expatriates a taste of authentic Emirati culture and cuisine. The restaurants are designed to revive memories of Dubai in the 1960s, when it was still a small town on the shore of the Arabian Gulf.

Try the machboos deyay, chicken cooked with yellow rice simmered in chicken stock, special Arabic spices and dry lemon; jesheed, crumbled baby shark cooked with onion and mixed spices served with white rice; hobool, deep-fried roe; and legaimat, golden and crisp fried dough balls coated with date syrup. A meal here costs $15 to $40 a person.

PLAY

Learn more about the UAE’s 4,000-year-old falconry and hunting traditions at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (www.adihex.com), the only dedicated consumer and trade event in the Middle East for safari, hunting, equestrian, outdoor and marine sports, arts and antiques, and culture and heritage. It takes place in Abu Dhabi every September.

To see the UAE’s falconry traditions, attend the Fazza Championship for Falconry (hhc.gov.ae/en/championships), which typically takes place every January in Dubai. Hundreds of young and old Emirati falconers gather to show their skills in handling the attractive yet intimidating birds.

Getting there

Etihad Airways offers daily direct flights between Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

TIPS
• You will be surprised by how easily you can interact with the Emiratis. The people are friendly, generous and ready to offer their unconditional help at any time.

•Some Emirati families may invite you to their homes for lunch or dinner. Don’t hesitate. It will be an opportunity for you to experience local hospitality and delicious local dishes cooked at home.

•Try as much as you can to dress appropriately while in public places, which typically means being covered from your shoulders to your knees. Emiratis love etiquette and pay a lot of attention to their image at home and abroad.

•Visitors can use the common greeting “Assalamu alaikum”, which means “may peace be upon you”, but they can also just say “Ahlan”,’ which means “hello”.

•Avoid consumption of alcohol and drunkenness in public. Consume alcohol only in the hotels and restaurants that serve it.

•While taking pictures in public places, ask for permission before taking photos of people, especially women.

•Tipping is not an obligation in restaurants or for those who provide services. However, it is seen as a gesture of generosity.

Camel-racing is another unique part of the UAE’s heritage and the traditional lifestyle of its people. The races were mainly held to mark important social occasions such as weddings.

Nowadays, races can take place all year round, but the primary racing season is from October to April, mainly on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the Al Wathba, Al Maqam and Al Ain camel race tracks.

Camel festivals are also held throughout the year. One of the best takes place during the annual HH Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Heritage Festival (bit.ly/2xjAj6u), where events include camel races, camel beauty contests, camel milking and a Saluki (Persian greyhound) race.There are also traditional games, Yolla (national dance), falconry, a souk (market) and other traditional activities.

Dubai, which is 140km from Abu Dhabi, shines with its luxury, modern buildings and streets. Visit Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at 824m. Take the high-speed elevator to the 124th-floor viewing point.

A little farther north in the Emirate of Sharjah,visit the oldest market place in the UAE, the Souk Al Arsah, and the most famous market in Sharjah, the Blue Souk. You will see colourful shops and get bargains on gold, silver, precious stones, jewellery, carpets and rugs.

Then go to the Emirate of Ajman, less than an hour’s drive from central Dubai, for white-sand beaches, rolling desert dunes, craggy mountain backdrops and thriving mangrove forests; or to the Emirate of Umm al-Quwain for its historical houses, mosques, streets and the people, who always have wonderful smiles.

SHOP

Pleasant, air-conditioned malls make it easy to enjoy shopping in most of the UAE. Especially in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, malls housing theatres, cinemas, game zones, food courts and children’s play areas cater to every customer’s needs under one roof.

Yas Mall (www.yasmall.ae/en-us) is one of the biggest malls in Abu Dhabi. It is attached to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi (ferrariworldabudhabi.com), a Ferrari theme park with rides, games and roller coasters, and the Yas Marina circuit, where the annual Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place.

Another shopping highlight is The Galleria on Al Maryah Island (www.thegalleria.ae), a mall with luxury fashion and jewellery boutiques sitting on the waterfront promenade.

STAY

Located in Abu Dhabi and only 40 minutes from the airport, Emirates Palace (www.kempinski.com/en/abudhabi/emirates-palace) is grand in both its design and offerings. With landscaped pools and a private marina overlooking a natural bay, the luxury five-star Kempinski hotel is perfect for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday.

If you do not mind being far from the city, stay at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara (qasralsarab.anantara.com), about 300km from Abu Dhabi. There, guests can enjoy luxury and comfort surrounded by the mesmerising Rub’Al Khali, the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 10:39 pm

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