Lessons in Arabic Hospitality: Breakfast with Hermoine Macura

Dubai One’s Australian TV presenter and author of Faces of the Middle East Hermoine Macura takes part in a traditional breakfast at the Sheikh Mohammad Center for Cultural Understanding in Dubai. She speaks with founder and owner of the Center Emirati national Abdullah Serkal, the Center’s manager Nasif Kayed, and other guests about the stories and inspiration behind her photographs, the history of the United Arab Emirates, and the importance of Arabic hospitality. Watch the video here.

This traditional Arabic Breakfast was a welcoming surprise to guests attending the Faces of the Middle East Exhibition at the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding in Dubai. The informal and family-like setting prompted attendees from around the world to enter into conversation. “Freedom to ask; open doors and open minds,” said Nasif Kayed, manager of the Center of the breakfast.

Macura explained her favorite images to guests and how she especially enjoyed taking shots of children such as the photograph of the Emirati boys on the front cover of her book. She shared how she was at a camel souk in Abu Dhabi and suddenly observed these little boys running around free-spirited between the camel stalls and thought she’d capture the moment. They appear smiling and at ease in their traditional Konderas.

Renowned for her warm and calm demeanor across the Gulf and North Africa region, when Macura met with people from the Middle East during her travels many were immediately taken with her desire to capture another side of the war-torn region.

What is so powerful about Macura’s images are the faces. As one guest commented, “you can see the stories of these people’s lives through their faces.” The trials and tribulations experienced by the subjects of Macura’s photographs are apparent and yet they have made the time to smile, to interact and to exhibit the seemingly happy simplicity of their daily lives.

Founder and owner of the Center Emirati national Abdullah Serkal referred to a quote by the late founding father and ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nayan, “Forgiveness covers everything, but generosity covers a lot.”

During this volatile time of continued unrest and political turmoil for the region, it is pertinent to remember the faces of the people from the Middle East. Despite the violence and suffering, there is a humanity and warmth found in these startling images. The generosity and hospitality of the region goes beyond the current wars. Forgiveness certainly does cover all and it should be used hand-in-hand with generosity for acquired peace, knowledge, and cultural understanding.

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