Seeking Cultural Understanding in Dubai
MICE groups traveling to any city in the world would probably need some sort of introduction to the destination. Usually, a pre-show city tour would suffice. For MICE groups visiting Dubai, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) reaches out and educates MICE visitors and expatriates on the traditions and customs of the UAE in more interesting ways.
Created in 1998 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the centre offers a range of activities for visitors, from tasting traditional cuisine, creekside walking tour, birds of prey session, to heritage and mosque tours. The centre is located in a beautifully restored wind tower house in the historic Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood in Bur Dubai, providing a perfect backdrop for visitors to explore and learn about the old Dubai architecture and town-planning.
The wind tower house itself is an excellent location for a theme-lunch reception, introducing MICE visitors to local dishes such as the Indian-influenced chicken briyani rice, beef machboos, curries, salads and desserts. Although these are rather basic local dishes, they are well prepared and tasty. On the day of MICEreview’s visit, the beef in the machboos was so tender and curry chicken was succulent. While Indians and Southeast Asians may find the degree of spiciness somewhat mild, the taste should suit most international visitors. The dessert, a type of ‘donut’, was absolutely delicious when dipped in the smooth, thick sauce made with pure fresh dates. It was an excellent finale to a sumptious meal. The guests were also educated on how these dishes should be served and how they can be enjoyed according to local customs. After the lunch, the SMCCU staff hosting the meal engaged the guests in casual conversations to bridge understanding among different cultures.
SMCCU’s wind tower house accommodates about 30 guests. For larger groups, the SMCCU can organise the theme-lunch in another house in the same Al Fahidi neighbourhood that can take up to 100 guests. MICE organisers should allocate more time than just having lunch, so that delegates can take a stroll in the neighbourhood or participate in other activities conducted by the Centre that enhance better understanding of UAE's history and culture.
The theme lunch or other activities organised by the SMCCU is recommended for small MICE groups of up to a hundred guests.
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