Up in Smoke -- Shisha goes by many names, including narghile, hubbly bubbly, and hookah. This tradition is enjoyed not just at cafes and lounges throughout Dubai, but across much of the Middle East and South Asia. The pastime is gaining in popularity in Western countries as well, where chic hookah lounges have opened in cosmopolitan cities. Shisha is thought to have originated in India and Persia, gained in popularity during the years of the Ottoman Empire, and then spread across the Arab world. The earliest shisha was smoked in a coconut shell. The modern shisha water pipe works by water filtration and indirect heat, and is used for smoking flavored tobaccos. The tobacco comes in a variety of flavors such as apple, grape, and strawberry, and is meant to be shared with everyone at the table, usually over an afternoon coffee or following a nighttime meal. Politics, religion, and other social matters are often discussed over the calming influence of shisha. People may sit for hours chatting and smoking this aromatic pipe.
Bedouin Beginnings -- Bedouins are animal herders who travel the desert during the wetter winter months and move toward cultivated land in summer. Bedouin society is characterized by tribal, patriarchal order. Among the Arab-speaking tribes such as those that roamed the deserts of the present-day U.A.E., the head of the tribal structure was called the sheikh. Today, the rulers of each of the emirates are also called sheikhs.
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