Cultural immersion at Blue Mosque and Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Immersing in cultural sensitivity forms the core of Business Education 2.0 at S P Jain. With this in mind, on the 26th September 2013 we, the participants of Global MBA and MGB September cohorts set on our journey for the quest of cultural knowledge.

Blue Mosque

Our first destination for the day was the notable Al-Farooq Omar Ibn Al Khatab Mosque, popularly known as the ‘The Blue Mosque,’ named after the iconic blue mosque in Istanbul. Al Farooq means “the one who distinguishes between right and wrong”. The mosque spans across an area of 4,200 square meters and can house 2,000 worshippers at a time. It is split into the main prayer hall for men and one for women on the first floor.

Four smaller domes surround the central dome while mini-domes crown the exterior walls. The five domes signify the five pillars of Islam. The walls, windows and ceilings of the mosque are intricately carved with blue, red and white colors, inspired from the Moroccan architectural style. There are engravings of verses from the Quran all along the walls and bookshelves on both sides stacked with copies of the Holy Quran. The domes in the main worship area are decorated with Quranic verses and Islamic designs and calligraphy created by a team of 60 Moroccan artists and craftsmen that were brought to Dubai especially for this purpose. The stained glass windows are mainly blue. The carpets were specially made in Germany; a new method of air-conditioning was adopted; and bronze chandeliers hanging from the mosque’s ceiling, rising to about 30 meters, add beauty and awe to the gigantic structure.

Blue Mosque

As we admired the beauty and the craftsmanship of the mosque, we were joined by the mosque Imam, the preacher. He explained to us the about the religion, its beliefs and the cultural differences and the value of culture that they preserve and pass from generation to generation. Followed by a 20 minutes presentation, we had a Q&A session. The session turned out to be very interesting and informative. Some of the questions that were answered include:

  • What are the five pillars of Islam?
  • Why are the women separated from the men in a mosque?
  • Why are women supposed to wear Abaya and men Kandura?
  • What is the concept of Jihad?

Blue Mosque

The Imam clearly explained the significance of every culture that is followed within the mosque and outside. After a well spent 2 hours, we started our journey to another exciting venue, Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding, (SMCCU) at the historical Bastakiya district of Bur Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU), located in a traditional Wind Tower House in the heart of the historic Al Fahidi District in Bur Dubai offers a range of enriching cultural programs. Operating under the philosophy of “open doors and open minds.” the center strives to raise awareness and demystify the local culture, customs and religion of the gulf region.

Blue Mosque

At the centre we were greeted with Emirati cuisine. The delicious lunch began with Arabic coffee, known as “Gahuwa Arabia” and dates. This followed with the main courses such as Machboos, made with chicken and fish, Saloona, the Emirati stew, and Ligamat, the sweet of the Emirates, served with date syrup. Along with the food, we enjoyed an interactive session with the host of the program. We discussed from history to politics to legal actions and capital punishments. After the hour long session, we were introduced to the origin and the cultural nuances behind the traditional attires, Abaya and thawb or thobe.

The tour was extremely informative and helped us equip ourselves with significant understanding of the traditions and cultures of the Emirati community. This tour has not only instilled cultural knowledge but a thirst to know more and become a leader with cross cultural adaptability.

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