At home with Maitha. Guests enjoying the hospitality of Maitha Essa and her family at their home in Mohammad Bin Zayed City in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: supplied photos

Abu Dhabi: As an expat living in the UAE, have you ever been to an Emirati home? If the answer is no, this is an opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss. Maitha Essa, a 25-year-old Emirati, has launched an initiative to provide expats a chance to experience Emirati culture and mingle with the natives by inviting people to her home in Mohammad Bin Zayed City.

Guests will be treated to a homecooked dinner while they get to spend time with her family. “I came up with the idea of this ‘Emirati House Experience’ when I joined the Tourist Guide Training Programme by the Department of Culture and Tourism,” said Maitha, a tourist guide.

All-round experience

The “experience”, launched last January, lasts three hours.

It starts with a traditional welcome with dates and coffee. Visitors are then taken to the Majlis where they get to interact with Maitha’s parents and siblings. “We encourage guests to ask questions and we try to answer them as honestly as we can. The question that many people ask is how the Emiratis have adapted to lifestyle changes over the years,” said Maitha. “I like to talk about the changes in women’s roles and responsibilities.”

The guests are seated on the floor for a traditional dinner. The menu includes hot favourites like chicken machboos and loqaimat for dessert. Arabic Sulaimani (black tea) is also served.

Guests are given a handcrafted souvenir and a picture for keepsake.

The initiative has been well-received. For tourist Maria Kristjansdottir from Iceland, the home experience was the perfect chance to interact with Emiratis. “We could have spent the whole night with Maitha and her family. Their hospitality was amazing.” Abu Dhabi resident Julia Vdovina, a Ukranian, said, “This is a nice cross-cultural experience. I learnt so much on my visit.”

What: Emirati home Experience

Where: Mohammed Bin Zayed City

Rates: Dh450 for adults, Dh225 for children below 13

For more information, contact maitha.essa@hotmail.com