Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Roudha Al Merri and R. Neil Hewison during a session “Do You Speak My Language?” at the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Are all Emiratis rich? Do they offer goat heads to guests? Do Emiratis have love stories? These according to an Emirati author, are some of the common questions that Emiratis get asked by foreigners and expats.

In a sequel to her successful book ‘UAE 101: Stories and Cultural Learnings,’ Roudha Al Merri is attempting to bust a series of myths and assumptions that she feels are commonly held by foreigners about the UAE citizens.

“The book is actually a collection of all the misconceptions about Emiratis and our culture. There are so many myths about us and I have finished writing about 50 now and I will be doing 51 more, to make it 101. These are actually the common questions that expats and foreigners ask me or other Emiratis,” said Al Merri, speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

Co-authored by Illaria Caielli, an Italian expat and Al Merri’s neighbour, the book now running in third edition offers expats a peek into Emirati lifestyle.

“What I am doing in this book is taking a bunch of questions, assumptions or misconceptions about Emiratis and answering them with a bit of wit,” adds Al Merri, who is a certified yogi, and also a vegan.

One of the most common questions that she gets asked is if everyone in the UAE is rich? But, she is not willing to answer that just yet. “You will have to read the book to find out the truth.”

Some of the other common questions her book tackles include: Are all Emiratis from Dubai? Is Dubai a city or a country? Then there are some deeper questions like, are all marriages arranged? Do Emiratis have love stories?

Do they?

“Dubai is a modern city with a cosmopolitan culture and it is not bound by any limits and just like any other modern society, love stories are very common in the UAE as well,” says Al Merri.

And what are some of the quirky questions?

“There is such a wide range of questions that you will be surprised to read. The questions range from small silly matters and every day affairs to deeper issues. Some people are curious about the way we spend Fridays. Some people are scared to visit Emirati households because they have some wrong notions about us like there is a certain way you need to behave with us,” she adds, laughing.

Relating an interesting story the 36-year-old said: “One German lady who moved to the UAE in 1980s told me that she never visited an Emirati house because she had a misconception that if she visited she would be offered a goat head to eat. I told her that there are many modern Emiratis who don’t even eat meat. Yes, it was a custom among Bedouins to offer their guests a goad head or present a whole goat with rice as a mark of honour. But it is not common anymore, not certainly in the cities”

But what about wealth? All Emiratis must surely be rich.

“Yes we all have oil wells in our houses,” she quips.