Emirates enjoys a strong tradition of music and dance which played a
vital role in many aspects of its people's lives. Songs were composed
to accompany different tasks, from hauling water at the well, to diving
for pearl-oysters out in the Gulf. In the latter case a professional
song-leader was kept on the pearling dhows whose job it was to rally
the men to work through music and song. The naha'an, as this person
was known, would launch into song and all the sailors would join in
as they worked. Each song had a rhythm for a particular task and, like
the sea-shanties of western sailors, the music became an inspiration
for good team-work.
In the evenings, around a fire in the desert, men would meet to talk and exchange news. It was also an occasion for story telling and for reciting poetry. During celebrations singing and dancing also took place and many of the songs and dances, handed down from generation to generation, have survived to the present time. Young girls would dance by swinging their long black hair and swaying their bodies in time to the strong beat of the music. Men would re-enact battles fought or successful hunting expeditions, often symbolically using sticks, swords or rifles.
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