Ask Ali: Spotting an Emirati first name isn’t straightforward

Dear Ali: How can I tell from a person's first name if they're an Emirati or not? Is it different for men and women? TA, Sharjah

Dear TA: There is no way someone’s first name can tell you for certain which country they come from. But there are names that are known to represent a certain region, or a religion and so on, which would give you an indication of where that person could come from – and that’s how you can tell in this case.

For example, many Saudis have a member of their family who carries the names Saud, Abdulazziz, Faisal, Turki or Nayef for men, while in the UAE you would have names such as Zayed, Khalifa, Butti or Hazza. For females you would find names such as Ousha, Afra, Mouza, Elyaziya or Alanoud, which represent some of the old, traditional female names in Emirati society and the Gulf in general. It’s very common in each region for people to name their children after the prophets that they believe in, their heroes, and, in the Gulf, sheikhs and sheikhas.

There’s nothing that says this is an Emirati name only, but there are more common names in Emirati society that are used by the families, which is the case, I believe, in every country.

Sometimes you would come across an Emirati who has a name such as Wael, Hossam or Tamer. These are male names that are common in the Levantine region and not the Gulf, but that doesn’t mean that men from the UAE can’t have them. It’s just not that common.

Dear Ali: What are the most common spelling and terminology mistakes that you've came across from the expatriate community? ZS, Abu Dhabi

Dear ZS: It’s time for me to pick on my expat friends. I believe that there are many spelling and terminology mistakes, but the most common ones would be:

Arab is a noun or an adjective. Arabic is the name of the language. Arabian is an adjective that refers to Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabian Gulf or Arabian horses.

It’s Muslim, not Moslem; and it’s sheikh, not sheek or shak. Allah is the word for God in Arabic, not the name of a god. Quran, not Koran, and it’s more polite when mentioning or writing to write Holy Quran instead of just Quran. And jihad means struggle, not war, specifically, in terms of a personal or inner struggle.

Dear Ali: What’s the word for “forgive me” in Arabic or the Emirati dialect? MJ, Dubai

Dear MJ: Who did you upset? What did you do? Just kidding. “Forgive me” in Arabic is samehni to a man and samheeni to a woman. For more than one person, you would say “samhooni” whether they are a man or a woman, and in the Emirati dialect you would say “elsemooha” for all.

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

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Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Stars: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac
Rating: 4/5

The more serious side of specialty coffee

While the taste of beans and freshness of roast is paramount to the specialty coffee scene, so is sustainability and workers’ rights.

The bulk of genuine specialty coffee companies aim to improve on these elements in every stage of production via direct relationships with farmers. For instance, Mokha 1450 on Al Wasl Road strives to work predominantly with women-owned and -operated coffee organisations, including female farmers in the Sabree mountains of Yemen.

Because, as the boutique’s owner, Garfield Kerr, points out: “women represent over 90 per cent of the coffee value chain, but are woefully underrepresented in less than 10 per cent of ownership and management throughout the global coffee industry.”

One of the UAE’s largest suppliers of green (meaning not-yet-roasted) beans, Raw Coffee, is a founding member of the Partnership of Gender Equity, which aims to empower female coffee farmers and harvesters.

Also, globally, many companies have found the perfect way to recycle old coffee grounds: they create the perfect fertile soil in which to grow mushrooms. 

The Bio

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Favourite place to relax in UAE: the desert around Al Mleiha in Sharjah or the eastern mangroves in Abu Dhabi
The one book everyone should read: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It will make your mind fly
Favourite documentary: Chasing Coral by Jeff Orlowski. It's a good reality check about one of the most valued ecosystems for humanity


Producer: Ronnie Screwvala

Director: Akarsh Khurana

Starring: Irrfan Khan, Dulquer Salmaan, Mithila Palkar

Rating: 4/5

Ziina users can donate to relief efforts in Beirut

Ziina users will be able to use the app to help relief efforts in Beirut, which has been left reeling after an August blast caused an estimated $15 billion in damage and left thousands homeless. Ziina has partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to raise money for the Lebanese capital, co-founder Faisal Toukan says. “As of October 1, the UNHCR has the first certified badge on Ziina and is automatically part of user's top friends' list during this campaign. Users can now donate any amount to the Beirut relief with two clicks. The money raised will go towards rebuilding houses for the families that were impacted by the explosion.”


Directed by: Todd Phillips

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix

Rating: Five out of five stars


Director: Rajesh A Krishnan

Starring: Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon

Rating: 3.5/5


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Roll of honour 2019-2020

Dubai Rugby Sevens
Winners: Dubai Hurricanes
Runners up: Bahrain

West Asia Premiership
Winners: Bahrain
Runners up: UAE Premiership

UAE Premiership
}Winners: Dubai Exiles
Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes

UAE Division One
Winners: Abu Dhabi Saracens
Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes II

UAE Division Two
Winners: Barrelhouse
Runners up: RAK Rugby

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