While it is heartening to see the growing number of new initiatives in showcasing Emirati heritage it is important to recognize the contribution of one of the long-standing promoters of Emirati culture—the Fujairah Social Development Centre.
This is a place that residents and tourists should add to their Must See List.
One not only can see and buy a variety of Emirati crafts but you can watch it being made and ask questions about the materials and the techniques.
Date Palm Extravaganza
In Frances LaBonte’s delightful children’s book, ‘The Arabian Date Palm’, the author catalogs the many ways in which the trunk, fronds and leaves of the date palm are used in the UAE and throughout the Arabian Peninsula.
At the Fujairah Social Development Centre one can see women making mats, bags, bangles and decorations, all from the ubiquitous palm tree.
The Fujairah women also make crafts from a number of other traditional materials including incense, perfume, ceramics and the Arabian silver braid (talli).
Passing on Emirati Heritage
The Development Unit is a place where Emirati heritage has been passed on for more than thirty years. Many of the women who work there day by day have been attending this centre for decades and this was the place where they learned and honed their skills.
The women who attend the Fujairah Social Development Centre enjoy a chat. They have a keen sense of humour and are eager to answer questions. While Arabic is the main language of conversation some of the women are proficient at other languages, including English.
In traditional Emirati society women do just about everything together and in visiting this centre one gets a sense of how relationships are woven and community is being built as the crafts are made.
Special Events and Displays
In the cooler months the women will often use their outdoor facilities to run a souq (public market) or stage a demonstration of Emirati cooking.
All Visitors Welcome
The centre is open to visitors from Sunday to Wednesday, 8.30am to 11am, when men and women can buy crafts and watch them being made.
Noorah Suhail al-Sharqi, is the manager of the heritage section at the centre. She is happy to arrange for tours and if you are coming as a class, club or some other group it is preferable to call Noorah to arrange a mutually convenient time. This will also give the women warning to boost their stocks of crafts to sell!
The Fujairah Social Development Centre is located in the Ministry of Social Affairs building on Jerusalem Street.
Coming down Fujairah’s main street (Hamad bin Abdulla St) from the direction of Dubai, turn right onto Jerusalem Street at the Taj Mahal Restaurant. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Development Centre is approximately 100 metres on the right side. There are several places to park outside the centre.
Check the Map
View Fujairah Social Development Centre in a larger map
Ph. (09) 2241003
Take a Look
Some of the crafts being made and items for sale can be seen in this photo album.
This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.
Image: Lots of crafts to see and buy in this large display hall at the Social Development Centre.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Posted by Geoff Pound at 7:41 PM