Heritage Village - Abudhabi, United Arab Emirates
I came to United Arab Emirates for the first time back in the December of 2014. I still remember landing in Abu Dhabi Airport on a Cold Night on 9th December exactly. Felt so strange initially, but later on i start liking UAE and really feel like home here.
I was so amazed and impressed to see how developed this great nation is.
I often wondered about the life of Emirati people before the discovery of oil back in the 1950’s, which boosted the development this beautiful country “The United Arab Emirates” as we see today. I had little knowledge about UAE’s past. Someone (Don’t remember who) actually told me that local people of this country was involved in fishing and most importantly the exporting of pearl which declined in the late 1930’s when artificial pearl took over the market.
These questions led me to dig deep and i did online researches of my own and came to know about a place called “The Heritage Village of Abu Dhabi”, which is the reconstruction of a traditional Emirati desert village run by the Emirates Heritage Club that gives us a glimpse into UAE’s past. I was so excited and wanted to visit this place so badly. From here starts my journey and my second blog post.
RINGING UP AJMAL RASHEED
I was seriously planning on my trip and decided not to go alone this time. Therefore, i called Ajmal Rasheed, a good friend of mine, who is also working in Abu Dhabi. Ajmal and I studied together in the same school, same class until 10th Grade back in India. He was also very excited when I told about the matter, so we fixed a Friday evening (17.11.2017) to go.
INTRODUCING SONY A6500 MIRRORLESS CAMERA
For the past seven years, I have been using Canon 550D for my photography and even the photos for my first blog post were taken in it. Recently I purchased a new camera the Sony A6500 with a Sony E-Mount 16 –70 mm Carl Zeiss Lens. The decision to leave my old DSLR have been in my mind for quite some time. I have been checking online reviews and discussing with camera user’s for some time now. I think canon is a good brand of camera; i am still a big fan of canon. However, when compared to a mirrorless camera especially the one’s Sony offers I feel that there are lot of options that make my work little simple both in photography and in videography. You can leave your comments at the end of the blog on how well Sony A6500 performed for this Blog. For me personally I feel Sony A6500 is an awesome camera.
But for someone who wish to start out in Photography you can choose Canon and i have an interesting suggestion. Recently Canon 200D was released on June 2017. A pretty good camera for beginners based online reviews and user experience. Flipping screen, ISO Expandable to 51,200 , Wifi Facilities, Full HD Movie Shoot at 60p , Compatible with both Canon EF & EF.S Lenses and lots more. So if you wish to buy it you can click the below link.
The Heritage Village is located near to the great Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi. Therefore, we took a bus from Abu Dhabi City to Marina Mall and reached there around 3:00 pm in the evening. Marina Mall is Huge, one of the biggest Malls in Abu Dhabi, located on the breakwaters of Corniche road.
THE MARINA MALL
After spending a few minutes near Marina Mall, we headed towards our destination. We started walking through the sides of a straight road parallel to the ocean near Marina Mall which leads to the Heritage Village (here you can see my shadow, Ajmal is still behind me).
After walking for a few minutes, we saw a big welcome board of the Heritage Village.
We finally reached at the Entrance. Time was around 3:20 pm then and since it is a Friday, the opening time is 3:30 pm in the evening. The Entrance was flooded with tourists, so we waited till the gates where opened so that people may go inside. Soon the entrance gates were opened, all people went inside and I got a clear shot of the Entrance. Ajmal went inside along with the other people. (Guess he was too excited to see what was inside)
I walked forward and just in front of the entrance, I saw a board displaying the visiting hours to the Heritage Village. I took a photo of the board also (I felt that it might be useful for someone who might want to visit this place after reading this blog). Guy’s please note that there is no fees charged for a visit to the Heritage Village and anyone can visit this place for free in the mentioned visiting times.
When I got inside the premises through the gate Ajmal called me, he was standing just beside a small structure with ducks on it and water was pouring from top of it through a pot. I liked that setup and quickly took a photo of it.
Ajmal managed to take a selfie of both of us at this spot in his mobile camera.
We noticed another board that displayed the various points of interest in the Heritage Village. As seen in the board lots of places are towards our left side, so we started to walk to the left side of the board.
At a distance, i saw the UAE Flag waving majestically in the blue sky. (December 2nd is observed as the UAE National day)
While walking we saw on our sides the traditional desert huts and houses used by the Arabs in the past.
These huts are made from palm leaves and connected by ropes and sticks.
We entered one of the desert huts and saw beautifully arranged floor carpets, a small bed and oil lamps for light hanged up in the ceiling. (The A/C units you see inside is kept recently and not from the past, don’t get confused)
A Traditional Desert House
A big Arabic boat model was kept outside one of the houses.
Next we reached the Handicrafts Souq. “Souq” is an Arabic word, which means “Market Place”.
We saw a big lamp in front of this place. (Felt like Aladdin’s Magic Lamp).
At the handicrafts souq, we found several workshops where craftsmen was demonstrating traditional skills like cloth weaving, pottery, metalwork etc... Each workshop houses different items and if visitors are interested, they can buy certain items (not all i guess, mainly the pottery and some other items) which are made on spot by the craftsmen. I did not plan to buy anything so I do not know how much money they ask, but the craftsmen were really happy displaying their skills and some people where even given chance to try out some of these skills. You can ask questions to them in English, which they are happy to reply. I had to wait for the craftsmen to go for a break because some of them were not willing to be a part of a photograph.
But I’ve managed to take some pictures of these workshops and in the meantime Ajmal was checking out other places within the village.
The Stitching centre @ handicrafts souq,
The pottery section @ handicrafts souq,
The Arabic Style Lamps @ handicrafts souq,
The Blacksmith’s Shop @ handicrafts souq,
The Carpenters Section @ handicrafts souq,
So once I got enough pictures and information on the handicrafts souq, I came out and started walking to the next point of interest. The next place I saw was the museum.
Ajmal was already waiting for me near the museum and he was sitting beside a model of an old canon at the front entrance of the museum.
We went inside the museum and saw many displays of old items like weapons, pottery, clothes, Jewellery, coins, sample pearls and tools used to finish them and even displays of photographs from the old days. There were so many things displayed in the museum. I did not plan to take photograph of each item. I just clicked the things that I found interesting (Battery backup for the camera is an important issue since there were many other interesting stuffs remaining to cover within the Heritage village).
Weapons @ Museum,
Mainly consisted of Swords, guns, daggers etc..
Pottery @ Museum,
Jewellery & Clothes @ Museum,
Coins @ Museum,
Here different coins from different countries can be seen as Emirati Arabs were involved in trade with different countries from the world in the past.
Old Photos @ Museum,
The photos depict the traditional life style of Emiratis in the past. There were so many other similar photos displayed but I did not click all of it.
Sample Pearls, its finishing tools and a pearl merchant’s log book @Museum
We saw everything displayed in the museum and came out. Next, just opposite to the museum, a board saying “Agricultural Environment” was seen and that is the next point of interest in the Heritage Village. So we quickly went there.
This place shows a basic setup of the desert style irrigation system before the introduction of modern agricultural equipment’s & vehicles.
Animals were also used as a part of irrigation.
Finally, we headed towards the beach. A major portion of Abu Dhabi City could be seen from this part of the beach.
The beach is a big attraction and we saw many people taking selfies and photographs there.
Ajmal suggested to take a photo of both of us together in my Sony DSLR, so we asked help from a Philippino couple we saw on the beach and they were kind enough to take a photograph for us. I quickly handed over my camera to one of them and showed how to click for a photo. Sunlight was directly falling on our face when we posed, but it was worth it. I thanked the Philippino for taking such a beautiful snap for us (I Cherish this snap forever, really loved it).
Me & Ajmal
Long boats were also seen in the beach (Fishing boats I guess, but not sure).
Time was around 5:15 pm then, the sun was getting low and so far we have covered most of the areas of the Heritage village but we missed the point of interest “Desert Environment”. So we immediately headed towards that part (This part is to the right side of the display board that showed various points of interest in the Heritage Village).
On the way also I managed to take photos that I found interesting.
The oil lamps on the Arabic huts were lightened up.
By this time most of the people left and only a few people where seen here and there.
On the way we also saw so many closed huts. They were actually the Traditional Markets that sold Arabic items (Have no clue why it was closed that day).
We kept walking; sun light was getting low too fast. I was getting restless and in my mind, it was like “did i miss anything, will i miss anything, I need to wrap up this thing soon, take as many pictures as I could”.
With this entire thing in mind, we reached the last point of interest in the Heritage Village, “Desert Environment”.
Saw a small well and garden near here.
As the name suggests this particular area shows the pure desert life of the Arabs.
I saw a big horse and a camel at a distance and immediately took a snap of both of it. I have seen camels in UAE, but this is the first time that I am clicking a picture of it so close. Camels were the main source of transportation in the desert in the past.
Unfortunately for Ajmal, the camel was about to be returned to its cage when we came. He was so badly in need of a camel ride.
The camel settled down on the ground and was tied up by the tamer. Ajmal went near it and posed for a photo.
The tamer then instructed us to move back as he want the camel to be caged up (The horse was also put behind another cage just beside the camel).
We looked around the whole place for anything else interesting.
We saw a tent not too far from us. In Arabic, it is called “Bait Al Shaar” which means the house of hair. The women of a nomadic group of Arabs called Bedouin make it from goat fiber. The Bait Al Shaar provides shade from the hot desert sun and shields from the chilly winter nights in the desert. Goat fiber has a unique property, when it is wet it expands (the knitting thread) and close any holes to prevent any sort of leakage. Since goat fiber is naturally oily, it repels water also. In the desert areas you can still see the nomadic Bedouin people and the Bait Al Shaar.
Next, we saw the “Bait Al Hassa” which means the house made from pebbles and rocks.
The roof of this house is made from palm fronds and made thicker by adding clay. This type of houses is seen in the eastern mountain parts of UAE.
Time was 5:45 pm and I checked all the photos that I have taken till now. I was somewhat satisfied. So we decided to leave and started walking to the entrance part of the Heritage Village. I checked my battery status, there is still back up. So I decided to shoot small video clips of the various points of interest. Ajmal said he will be waiting for me at the entrance. I quickly grabbed my camera and shot some short video clips starting from the “Desert Environment” and a few other places as well (I decided to shoot video clips, so that I can make a video trailer for the Heritage Village).
After finishing the video shoot, I walked to the entrance gates of the Heritage Village. I saw some cats just to the side of the gates (Why did i miss that? Both Ajmal and me did not notice them while we came in). Luckily, I had enough charge to click photos again.
Those cats were patient and didn’t even move when I came near to them.
Finally, we came out of the Heritage Village , Sun was setting and lights were slowly fading down.
At the end of the day we both were happy that we had a wonderful visit. We now had a good idea on the culture and past of UAE. But for me, this trip was special because i was seeing Ajmal after a long time. Even though we both were in Abu Dhabi, we won’t see each other often due to our busy work schedules (Except our weekly phone calls).
We started walking back to Marina Mall and from there we need to catch a bus back to Abu Dhabi City. While walking we talked about our good old school days, life back in Kollam (our home place in Kerala, India), shared lots of jokes and old memories. We wished that a few more of our old friends was with us right then (Guy’s if you are reading this please note we miss all of you badly).
One thing was true “We both miss our School Days”.
Road was getting crowded with traffic, with lots of nostalgic memories, we walked along the road gazing at the sunset.