The talk of the UAE being a melting pot of various cultures might not be a myth. But the latest revelations that 72 per cent of the UAE's expatriates are not aware of local customs and traditions is a startling eye-opener. Living in a foreign country and not developing an understanding of the host country's culture is not a good thing, especially in this age of globalisation. It reflects an attitude of indifference on the part of foreigners.
People travel to faraway places on tour to learn about various cultures. This helps broaden one's outlook. In the UAE there are a number of institutions that offer a taste of traditional Arab lifestyle and culture. People from all parts of the world travel to the UAE — more than 10 million per annum — to try and understand the heritage, culture and tradition of the country.
So there is absolutely no excuse for any foreigner — who is living, earning and benefiting from this wonderful land — not to know the local customs and traditions, especially when the hosts are so hospitable.
Dubai Museum and the majority of the 17 museums in Sharjah offer a good reflection of the traditional Arab lifestyle, culture and heritage of the UAE. Besides, the Mohammad Bin Rashid Establishment for Cultural Understanding offers free orientation to visitors and residents who want to get acquainted.
Learning and understanding other cultures should become part of an individual's DNA — especially if he or she wants to live in a globalised and cosmopolitan environment where the role of social media is growing every day. Expatriates should look into what they are missing by not knowing local traditions.
The only way to reduce the worldwide gap in cultures and civilisation is to try to develop a better understanding about others' cultures. That way the world will be a better global village — free from conflicts and peaceful.