Ask Ali: Learning the arts is no problem in the UAE and how do Emiratis meet people of opposite gender

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Dear Ali: My husband will soon be working in the UAE, and I think we will live in Dubai. My daughter studies arts and music, and I'm a bit scared that she has to leave classes at her current school. Can you tell me if she will be able to continue her studies, mainly music, in your country? As I heard there are some restrictions on music in Islam? WR, Australia

Dear WR: First of all, welcome. I hope you will love this move and even discover a lot of unique and interesting things to do while living in our beautiful country.

I wouldn’t worry at all about this matter. Regarding our religion, yes, there are some restrictions here on music and some on musical instruments, but it’s not forbidden by law. We are tolerant people and there are plenty of music schools in each emirate, especially in Dubai.

You can also attend international classical-music concerts in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and even witness performances from rising Emirati musicians.

The schools are located all over the city, either in arts centres or in shopping mall areas, which is convenient for everyone. These schools offer traditional classes and affiliated programmes for all ages and types of musical instruments. Often you can find some of the world’s finest music instructors giving the classes. I’m sure learning with them will provide an unforgettable experience and help your daughter develop great skills.

I would suggest you look for a school near to your house. If you search online, most of these schools have a website with all the information you need, including contact details.

Dear Ali: I have no idea how Emirati people meet each other if they are always trying to avoid interaction with the opposite gender. Can you explain? MJ, Dubai

Dear MJ: People in the UAE have a great culture that gives directions for almost all aspects of life. So when it comes to engagements, our traditional ways are meant to secure people from any kind of harm or mistakes.

When it’s time for a woman or man to get married, they will always be supported by relatives and friends. Knowing him or her well, the friends and relatives will start making the necessary efforts to find the person’s perfect match.

The other way is when the couple meet each other on their own, for example, while studying in the same university or working together at an organisation.

They would ask someone to help them express their intentions and then exchange contact numbers with their families, so relatives can arrange for them to meet in a traditional way.

Commonly, if a stranger approaches a woman in the street asking for her contact details, it would not be accepted by our society.

In the end though, there are many ways to meet your Mr or Ms Right, but we pay a lot of attention to the ways we do it.

Remember, we don’t have arranged marriages in our culture. What we have in some tribes or families is a recommended marriage, which means the man and woman are recommended to get married by their families, but if they don’t wish to have this, they can simply reject the recommendation.

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question.