With folks glued to their phone screens, a complacent public in UAE is quick to judge the country as unfavorable to creativity or meaningful conversations. For the uninitiated, it’s only a matter of discovering something beside the 1000 GB data pack.
Malavika Varadan, an RJ on City 101.6 shared a story at a TED event last year that finds relevance here:
I teach drama at the Hive, Dubai, which has transformed many lives that have been associated with it. When children first step in, you see them withdraw into a corner, look to their phones or ask us for a Wi-Fi password. What a space like the Hive does is get these kids talking and expressing themselves. Soon, they talk to one another and find friends. Similarly, in a city like Dubai where we all are initially strangers, communication gives a great sense of purpose and belonging.
See the complete TED talk her: See her TED talk here:
To satiate your hunger for deeper conversations, friendships that span longer than a clubbing night and relationships with likeminded people, here are 5 community memberships in UAE:
Don’t ask me how I am, ask me who I am.
These monthly events begin with people being divided into small groups with a bunch of meaningful prompts placed in a bowl: How does music affect our lives as a community? What is your sole purpose in life? Where does anger come from?
High school friends Lyne Ismail and Farah Bushnaq run a non-profit community initiative that aims to encourage people to have better conversations.
Experienced as a Health & Fitness Executive at the Yas Marina Circuit, Lyne added “Having deeper conversations with strangers takes you out of your comfort zone. The thing we hear most after our events is that people feel ‘refreshed’.”
When asked about inhibitions seen in people, Farah, 27, event freelancer said “At first, people used to be shy opening up. They aren’t sure if they want to speak even. But because the norm is to “deep” talk at our events, people start to feel safe expressing themselves, because they know they’re in an environment free from judgement or shame.”
How much: The event is free and open to all.
When: Sessions typically last for about three hours. You can find their next event announcement here.
2. Network After Work
A drink might be the ideal stimulant for a real conversation.
Casual and free-flowing in format, Network After Work presents itself as a playground for working professionals to relax, meet new, people, share a drink, and have laidback conversations. Individuals meet on a weekday after work hours to enjoy the company of people across different industries.
Register on their website
If you have a book in common, you have a shared story.
Founded in 2011, Bibliophiles brings you out of your shell to discuss ideas and opinions to do you’re your favorite books. Members vote for the book they want to read while the medium used to communicate and read is English.
With plenty of parking space, good food and blissful coffee, these meet up sessions are unique and interesting.
Where: Book Munch Café, Al Safa Park, Dubai
When: 7pm, Every third Saturday of the month
How much: AED 30 annual fee. Sign up here.
4. The Written Word Society
It’s a full-fledged love affair with words.
This social group is targeted at poets, writers, musicians and any other artists who share a love for the written word to collaborate and showcase their work. In 2016, Director-Founder, Purva Grover set up the society consisting of 800 members. She conducts fortnightly writing workshops, author interactions, feedback sessions, open mic nights and networking events to contribute to the writing fraternity in UAE.
When asked about the hitch faced while interacting with new people, Purva said:
It takes time for people to warm up; hence I always rely on fun, ice-breaker games. It’s tough to put your work out there for people, and be judged. Many people walk in with a doubt, however, as the evening progresses everyone warms up to the idea and realizes the goodness of their pieces.
How much: Free for all
When & Where: Find the details here.
5. Art of Living
Under the aegis of one of India’s renowned spiritual teachers, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Art of Living Foundation has come to be one of the most valuable spiritual organizations in UAE and India. While this membership comes with a few tags attached, it can be a refreshing change of pace.
With meditation, courses focused around getting to know yourself, yoga and other common experiences, you’ll find it an easy place to bond with likeminded people.
Do you know of more community memberships in UAE? Tell us in the comments below.