If you are a culture vulture, you should really consider taking the tours from the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). Essentially you will be able to get a fuller picture of Emirati culture through more interaction and a meal with the Emirati as well as a guided tour through Bastakia. SMCCU is a non-profit organization set up by the Prime Minister to give a view of Emirati culture to tourists, expats and anyone who wants to listen. The main objective of this organization is to remove barriers between people belonging to different nationalities and at the same time the organization strives to raise awareness of the local religion, customs and culture of the UAE (United Arab Emirates). It’s a great idea – and the Emiratis who run the tours of the mosque and of Bastakiya are really engaging and friendly.
If you want a more in depth tour of Bastakiya than our walking guides, then we suggest speaking with the SMCCU to get the bespoke treatement. The tours take place Sunday to Thursday and they go into every bit of detail you want them to. Both educational and entertaining, we recommend it wholeheartedly; especially if you have a burning question that you have never been able to get answered.
The activities organized by the organization are the main reasons as to why so many people visit SMCCU when they are vacationing in Dubai. In addition to the visit to the tour of Bastakiya there are two other ways that they can help bridge your understanding: cultural breakfasts and lunches – where you get to sample real Emirati food; and a tour of Jumeirah Mosque
Both of these are also highly recommended. You get to enjoy your breakfast in the centre which is a typical wind tower house situated in the Bastakiya quarter. The cultural breakfast is available only on Mondays and Wednesdays at ten in the morning. The cultural lunch is offered on Sundays and Tuesdays at 1 pm in SMCCU. The lunch is accompanied by a speech on the region’s culture and traditions given by a local Emirati.
Points of note
Dress conservatively especially if you are visiting the Jumeirah Mosque. It is important to respect the Muslim culture
Visit the website cultures.ae for tour and visit schedule information as these are subject to changes.
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is your opportunity to understand everything about Islam and Gulf Arabia traditions. The guides are very knowledgeable and you can ask them anything. It really bridges the gap between East and West and tries to correct the stereotypes that have resurfaced since 9/11.
When – If you are planning to take the Jumeirah Mosque tour then it is at 10 am every Sunday, Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday. The Cultural breakfasts are available twice a week: Monday and Wednesday at 10 am. The Cultural Lunch is held on Sundays and Tuesdays at 1 pm.
How long – The Walking Tour is for 60 minutes
Location – Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is situated in the heart of Bastakiya Quarter in Bur Dubai. Just ask the taxi driver to take you to the traditional wind tower house in Dubai.
Cost – The walking tour costs AED 35 while the Cultural breakfast costs around 60 AED. The Jumeirah Mosque tour cost only 10 AED.
Bookings – For the Jumeirah Mosque tours booking isn’t required. So it means that you can just turn up and wait at the meeting point, i.e. just outside the mosque, at the allotted time and wait for the SMCCU member to provide you with a tour of the mosque. For the walking tours, the cultural breakfast and lunch, you have to book contact the SMCCUat 043536666 or you can send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More info – For more information you can visit the official site of Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding at cultures.ae