Dubai: Emiratis are proud of their names which often represent an essential part of their identity and cultural roots.
Names are often derived from Arabic words indicating a positive characteristics.
The UAE is famous for its strong attachment to Islamic and Arabic names with an authentic meaning and most Emirati families use such names extensively due to the important position of the name in Islam as well as in the Arabic language.
The name has to be selected carefully using criteria that makes the holder of the name proud.
Therefore, Islamic and Arabic names such as Fatima, Aisha, Maitha, Hind, Hessa, Afra, Mariam, Hamdah, Khadijah, Shamma, Asma, Mahrah, Khowla, Amnah, Ameenah, Athijah, Mouza, Azza are common.
Widely used men's names are Mohammad, Ahmad, Eisa, Majid, Tarek, Hamdan, Khalifa, Omar, Rashid, Ammar, Saif, Hussain, Hassan, Abdullah, Abdul Rahman, Faisal, Saeed and Sultan.
These are essential names in the UAE and are frequently present in one family. For example, Fatima and Mohammad are very popular names and it's hard not to find such names in an Emirati family. Most of the time the grandmother and grandfather, daughter and son, niece and nephew or cousins in the same family are called Fatima and Mohammad or any of the other said names.
The meaning is fixed but the spelling and pronunciations usually vary. For instance the name Fatima takes several styles of spelling and pronunciation, such as Fatima, Fatema, Fatimah or Fatma in fact all have the same meaning, and this also applies to Hessa, Hissa or Hessah, Mariam and Maryam, Aysha or Aishah, Amna or Amnah, Khawla or Khawlah.
Mariam Khalifa an Emirati housewife said: "These names represent an essential part of our Islamic and Arabic identity and we are and we will always be very proud of them. For instance, my brother is called Mohammad, and I called my son Mohammad after my eldest uncle. And my sister's little son is also called Mohammad. This is the name of our Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and we seek blessings through this name."
Emirati Hamdah Al Ali, a banking sector employee said: "These names are very precious to us as Emiratis, and despite the unique wave of civilisation that our country is currently living in we are still attached and proud of our original names. I'll give you an example, my sister's name is Maha, which means deer, which is old as well but she called her newly-born baby girl Fatima after the daughter of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) despite the name being much older than Maha, as far as I know," she said.
Emiratis, either young or old, still appreciate and admire their ancient authentic names and even newly-wed Emirati couples ensure they call their sons and daughters Fatima and Mohammad.
— To be continued