|If one were to ask a dozen citizens of
the U.A.E. what they considered their heritage it is likely
that the answers would consistently include a number of common
features linked to both the natural and the cultural environment.
The fact that the Emirates are bounded by the Arabian Gulf,
on the West, and the Arabian Sea, on the east, has given the
inhabitants of the coasts a maritime orientation. Pearling,
fishing and the songs that go with these activities, certainly
form part of the countrys heritage. When one thinks of
the desert Bedouin, on the other hand, Arab hospitality, coffee
being pounded in a brass mortar, black tents, hunting with the
saluqi dog and falcon, all spring to mind. The agriculturalists
of the gravel plains and mountainous interior probably consider
the date palm one of the most important parts of their heritage,
for while the date nourishes humankind, the date stone can be
used as animal fodder, the date fibre can be used to make rope,
the fronds can be used to make palm frond houses (barasti),
and so forth. And underlying all of these different features
of Emirates life is Islam, the glue that binds together a nation.
The Divine Revelation which arrived in the area in the 7th century
A.D. continues to provide the foundation for civil institutions
in a deeply spiritual country. If the unique natural environment
of the U.A.E. sets the country apart from its neighbours, Islam
provides the ties that bind it to the rest of the Arab nation.