Memories from the old days in UAE

Enjoy some snippets of people’s memories from the old days in UAE

The traditional wedding in the houses …The buying of fabric for friends and family …choosing goats and camels… the animals in pens by the house waiting for slaughter..traditional food distributed for 3 days…

The zehiba party …displaying jewellery n suitcases prepared for bride ..showing genorisity of grooms family..excitement of neighbours old and young…preparing bride for 1 week…pasting her with ‘neal’ blue chalk which is used to whiten clothes ….keeping her indoors to whiten her ….inspection of body by elders….party was a really happy simple occasion, not showy like today …and many such traditions of the simple bedouin wedding.

I remember the al Ain ones to be the best. What great humble generous people. They had little but gave a lot. (Alia, Dubai)

We used to get lots more rain. I remember having to pick my kids up as the school closed because of the rain and I had to wade through the water and my boots being filled with water. I had to carry the children out. (Salma, Sharjah)

When I was at primary school in the 70s, it often rained so much that the whole area was flooded and we couldn’t go to school. (Rashid, Central Region)

We lived in a small town near a British training camp. We didn’t have electricity or running water.  There was a big tank at the camp and we could collect water from there. There was also a fallaj running from the Shaikh’s land and we used to play in it. (Mohammed, Manama, Ajman)

I remember when  the Trade Centre was the biggest and brightest building on Shaikh Zayed  road. My children used to call it the fairy princess castle as the lights used to shine between all the others buildings.

Now there are too many castles to choose from, each one brighter. I still call trade centre the princess castle. Nothing replaces that fond memory. (Salma, Sharjah)

In the old days you could drive from Safa Park to Karama any time of the day in just ten minutes. (Salma, Sharjah)

Memories from the Old Days in UAE

I remember when we first got tv and when the man came on to read the news my grandmother covered her face. And when we watched a movie on tv she would shout, ‘watch out, he’s behind you with a knife!’ (Salman, Abu Dhabi)

We didn’t have electricity or water until I was about seven. We lived in a small house which was just one room. We all slept in it. And we were all born in that house. (Hamid, Manama)

When I first moved to Dubai in the 90s, I lived in one of the few towers on Shaikh Zayed Rd. My living room looked out the back and it was just empty. We could only see Zaabeel Palace. Sometimes you could see camels off in the distance.

That area is now completely built up with towers, Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai. (Aisha, Dubai)

memories from the old days in UAE

I remember camels just wandering amongst the villas in Dubai. And there was a Bedu man who came every Ramadan and set up camp near our house with all his camels. (Mel, Dubai)

Shaikh Zayed Rd was just two lanes and we could walk across to get to the Metropolitan hotel with hardly any cars around. (Mel, Dubai)

My grandparents lived in Hamriya near the sea. During the Second World War, ships stopped coming from other countries like India and people were hungry. My grandfather caught fish and my grandmother cut the fish into pieces and distributed it to people.

They later moved inland to Dhaid and had a farm there. There were no stores or markets in Dhaid at that time and they would have to go to Sharjah by camel to stock up on things like sugar. It would take a whole day to get there and another day to come back.

They grew things on the farm and also bred camels and sold them. (Umm Salem, Dhaid)

Memories from the Old Days in UAE

When I was little. I used to go with my grandfather to his farm and he milked the camels. The milk was frothy and he joked that it was camel ice cream. We took the milk, put freshly made ragag (wafer thin bread) in it, poured honey over it and ate it. We thought it was delicious! (Sara, Dhaid)

My father was a very wealthy man. He started from nothing, but through his hard work and smartness, he built a successful business. By the time I was at college, he owned several tall apartment and office buildings, but he told us we had to work for ourselves.

We lived at home with our mother but otherwise we had to manage on our starter salaries (around 7000 dhs). We bought our own cars and paid for everything by ourselves. He told us that one day we would have his wealth when he died. In the meantime, we had to make ourselves by ourselves just like he did.

He wasn’t being mean. He wanted us to understand the value of things and to feel the satisfaction of being successful by ourselves. I really appreciate what he did. It made me a better person. (Mohammed, Dubai)

I was born at home in a small village. At that time there was no recording of births, so I don’t know exactly when I was born, around 1967. At that time, people would say something like ‘he was born in the year of the big rain’. (Ahmed, Ajman)

Memories from the old days in UAE

I learned everything from my mother. She taught me how to cook all kinds of food – stews, bread, fish… She taught me how to clean and wash, how to embroider clothes, how to make things. Every day we had to do work before we could play.

We helped our mothers cooking, we had to go to the well to fetch water and carry it back on our heads. After we finished all that, we would sit and weave baskets and mats from palm leaves and we would sell them. We also embroidered clothes, such as the decorative cuffs of salwar (undertrousers) and kandoras. We made our own and we sold them too.

We did everything together as a community. We cleaned together, we fished together, we cooked the fish together, we made things together. We shared our food.

After I had a child, I would leave it with a neighbour while I went to do some work. The children were not just the parents’ child, they were the neighbourhood’s child. After we finished our work we would sing songs together. We hardly did anything alone.

Life was much harder than now, but it was nice. It was a beautiful life. It was simple and everyone stuck together. Now everyone is scattered around and looking to his own affairs only. People don’t do things together like before.

Umm Ahmed, Khor Fakkan


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