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Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
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Authentic Emirati Cultural Meal and Talk in Old Dubai
Ranked #22 of 386 things to do in Dubai
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) invites visitors and residents alike to learn about the local culture, customs and religion through its various interactive programmes under the banner and motto of the centre, "Open doors. Open minds.". The SMCCU offers Cultural Breakfast Monday & Wednesday at 10am, Cultural Lunch Sunday through Thursday at 1pm, Dinner every Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday night at 7pm and Saturday Brunch at 10:30am. We also offer Tours of the historic district every Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday at 10:30am and Saturday at 9am which includes a visit inside the Mosque near the Ruler's Court. We also offer educational courses and programmes for students and adults, and arrange private group tours and cultural events for your groups and institutions. Pre-booking and reservations can be made on our website or by contacting our office directly.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children, Food available for purchase
Level Contributor
31 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Cultural walk”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 April 2012

It was not as expected. Supposed to be a walk around old Dubai, but was only around a reconstruction of how old Dubai had been. Had lunch there with a question and answer session. More of a brainwashing session.

Visited February 2012
1 Thank Mississuagatraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SMCCUDubai, Guest Relations Manager at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, responded to this review, 27 April 2012
At the SMCCU we endeavor to impart interesting and accurate information about the Historic Bastakiya District, one of the oldest trading villages in Dubai. The tour includes a walk around and inside these real homes which were once the residences of the families and local tribes. Some of the homes are still occupied by residents while others host a variety of museums, art galleries, and restaurants. The restoration project began in 1984, and the project's aim was to bring those homes that had fallen into disrepair, back to their original appearance, giving visitors a glimpse of what life may have been like here more than 100 years ago. We hope that you will consider a trip back to Dubai and include the centre on your next visit.
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931 reviews from our community

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Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
151 reviews
63 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 117 helpful votes
“To Experience the Open Book Learning”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 April 2012

I booked this cultural lunch 3 weeks before my trip to Dubai. We paid the fee when we arrived the day for the lunch. It’s not necessary to pre-pay it, very convenient. The SMCCU is located at a cultural area - Baskitaya, nearby there’re some little shops for selling arts, craftsmen, paintings, etc. After/ before the cultural lunch, you could walk around the nearby area for exploring the heritage of Dubai. Oh! Also the Dubai museum and Heritage house are nearby too!

As you can see from many comments below, through the lunch, you could get to know better of the background of Arabian culture. I admire this idea for cultural exchange. ‘Dining’ plays an important role in daily life. Through dining to understand a culture is faster and easier than reading books. It’s definitely an open book activity, I believe many foreigners are curious enough to know the mysterious Arabian culture. This is a right place to know it better with no shy!

It worths the visit, it only costs 70AED per person but make you a valuable and meaningful afternoon.

Visited April 2012
3 Thank DominiqueUltee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vinterbro, Norway
Level Contributor
205 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 157 helpful votes
“Fantastic way to learn about history, religion and everyday life in Dubai”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 April 2012

We went there a Saturday morning with our children aged 3 and 5. In order to be part of the Heritage tour, we had to book a few days in advance.

We started our tour with a stop in a mosque, where our excellent guide Waleed told us about their religion, praying, mosque history and whatever we would like to know. After here, we walked for an hour to see replica houses from ancient times, learning about how they lived their lives in the old days. The very good history telling from our guide made this very interesting also for our children.

We ended with a Q&A session, where we were offered arabic coffee and dates. The setting was laidback, and our guide allowed us to ask about anything we wanted! We learned about their tradition way of dressing, differencies in sex roles and rules for dating/marrying :-)

When the questions about Dubai's investment rate and need to borrow money from Abu Dhabi during the financial crises and about democracy in UAE, the answers sounded more "official". But we enjoyed the opportunity to ask about anything, and the fact that the SMCCU give us their best answers from a local point of view.

Our tour was supposed to last from 10.30-12.00, but it ended around 1.00 pm thanks to our fantastic guide and nice group of people!

We recommend visitors to have lunch at the nice Basta Art Cafe after this tour.

Visited April 2012
Thank KEGillesen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
41 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Great place!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 April 2012

The SMCCU offers traditional Emirati food and you have the opportunity to ask as many questions as you want about the local customs and tradition. A must do

Visited May 2011
Thank SteveCeline
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
13 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“A must not only for people visiting”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 April 2012

I have visited the Jumerah mosque and went for breakfast and lunch at the SMCCU and each time I had the most amazing time. Nasif is one of the best story tellers and speakers you will encounter - very engaging, down to earth and entertaining. It is best to book in advance as they tend to be very busy and do not forget your list of questions - they are always happy to answer!

Visited April 2012
1 Thank irusik_ru
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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