Preserving the Emirati heritage one weave at a time

Preserving the Emirati heritage one weave at a time

DUBAI: Um Muhammad braves the hot sun and the long distance from Ras Al Khaimah to Expo 2020 Dubai every day, to be an ambassador of Emirati heritage.

Um Muhammad proudly shows off her crafting skills, giving visitors the opportunity to learn about the UAE’s culture. She aims to instill the value of authenticity in the hearts of children and the youth, who gather to watch her weave wicker objects. She talks to them about Arab customs and traditions, hoping to bequeath these to future generations.

Following her early Fajr prayer, Um Muhammad begins her daily 100-kilometre car journey to Expo 2020, bringing with her palms leaves, wicker, and the dyes she uses to colour her creations. Upon arrival, she meets with other mothers who are preserving the UAE’s heritage. These women also specialise in traditional handicrafts like Talli, Henna, Al-Da’un, Saffah, and other works that fall within the Emirati Design Platform MENASA next to Al Wasl Plaza.

Um Muhammad has been doing this kind of craftwork since she was ten years old: “My mother helped me master traditional handicraft by training me well to prepare wicker and palm leaves for making various traditional Emirati items like Almikhrafah, baskets, different kinds of bags for both adults and children,… Mashab, Yabbah, large and small Mughatah, [and] items that the ancestors used in their daily lives.”

She said she was eager to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai through its Design and Crafts programme, as she believes it is important to introduce the world to Emirati culture, stressing the importance of women’s participation in this arena.

Um Muhammad expressed her happiness at the number of visitors who can view her work: “Participation at Expo 2020 Dubai is a great honour and a matter of great pride to me. I hope our current and future generations [appreciate] the customs, traditions, and heritage of our ancestors”. 

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