‘Soul of Dubai – Cultural Experiences’: Inspirational and Creative roots


Dubai, UAE: Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) through its project ‘Soul of Dubai – Cultural Experiences,’ is celebrating the beauty of Dubai’s creative landmarks and heritage destinations. Through second season which the authority supports ‘Dubai Destinations’ initiative, Dubai Culture is collaborating with a group of creative talents to share their cultural experiences with community members, in line the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. This confirms the Authority’s commitment to cementing Dubai’s position as a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity, and a thriving hub for talent.

Community Authenticity

Focusing on these experiences, Elias Kandalaft, CEO and founder of Pinch Gourmet, who moved from Canada to the UAE to unleash his culinary talent, has detailed some of his cultural trips in the city, saying: “I found many opportunities here, and I also touched on the multiple cultures and the diverse society that characterises the emirate. Going to the spice souk is one of the activities I love. When you walk around this market, you are immediately overwhelmed by the different smells. It’s nice to walk in the market, take in the diverse sights and rich knowledge that all the venders pass on to you.”

Kandalaft affirmed that Hatta Heritage Village is also one of the places he likes to visit, describing its impact on himself, saying: “It kind of reminds me of the way we used to live; the easier and quieter times. Be humble, and remind yourself that this is real life.”

On the experience of food in Hatta, he states: “It is interesting that when you go to Hatta you have the opportunity to experience traditional Emirati cuisine, especially in a place called (Tanoor). It’s a hidden gem that not many people have discovered, and now many are traveling long distances just to come to this place.” Kandalaft added, “I didn’t know Hatta’s fame for making its own honey, which is a higher quality product compared to the commercial honey you see in the market. I have felt the care with which the honey is produced, and it is really the best.”

Kandalaft concludes: “Everyone should come to visit Hatta. It’s definitely my favourite place. It shouldn’t just be my favourite place; it should be everyone’s.”

Tea innovations

The season brings us another experience, from someone who lives in Dubai. This time Dong Juan from China, who teaches Guqin, and specialises in brewing Chinese tea. About life in the emirate, she said: “I always have tea parties with my friends. We play the Guqin and enjoy the traditional Chinese culture embodied in ancient music. I have also shared Guqin and Chinese tea with my friends from other countries. It’s inspirational that different cultures can meet together here.”

She continues: “Although I specialise in Chinese tea, I don’t only drink the traditional variety from home, but also search for international teas and herbal beverages in Dubai. For example, in this city’s teahouses, I’ve tried mint tea, jasmine tea and many other hot herbal drinks. It’s great that they bring it to you in a unique way and serve it with delicious desserts. Tea that is different from traditional Chinese tea gives me plenty of inspiration in my tea parties. I add flowers and herbs that I find in the Dubai tea market to my daily Chinese tea serving for a fresh and creative flavour.”

She has also visited the Museum of the Future, which is one of Dubai’s most famous landmarks, and is described as the most beautiful building on earth. About her experience there, she recollects: “I had the opportunity to enjoy the most exciting architectural wonders in Dubai, and see the possibilities of the future. The blending of traditional Chinese culture and the Museum of the Future is a wonderful thing. When I walked around in my traditional Han dynasty Chinese clothes, I felt as if I had taken a journey from ancient times, and sailed in the flowing river of history. It also makes me feel that Dubai is an inclusive city, open to different cultures and allowing of people from all places to celebrate their different cultures. I love this city!”

Centre of Attention

Elisa Bruno was born and raised in a coastal city in southern Italy and is the managing director of Level Shoes, a part of the Chalhoub Group. She worked throughout her life in the education and luxury fashion sectors, and by virtue of her work, has engaged with international and local designers. Elisa said: “I have a close relationship with Dubai, and referred to it as home. I first visited it in 2010 and returned again in 2022; with the passage of time, the city has become the centre of my interests, especially since it is one of the world’s most prominent fashion capital, having attracted well-known brands and businesses.

She continues: “By the nature of my responsibilities, I work with a group of international and local designers, including Mohammed Kazim, Co-founder of Tamashee. The brand’s attractiveness lies in its portfolio of local identity and the vibrant colours it offers.” On the other hand, Elisa sees her second home in Dubai Design District, saying: “It’s not just a place to work, it’s a community of creative talent and some of the best international fashion houses based in the neighbourhood.”

In Dubai, Elisa enjoys eating classic seafood with contemporary flavours. Origami is one of her favourite spots in Dubai, where she explores a long list of flavours, items and dishes.