Last week, the spirit of the UAE enveloped the grand heart of Moscow at Manezh Square. Russians were seen enjoying traditional qahwa and getting henna tattoos in the open pedestrian area. The square was awash with the colors of the UAE flag—red, white, black, and green—accompanied by a variety of traditional Emirati activities from June 27 to July 2.

‘The Days of UAE Culture’, orchestrated by the UAE Embassy and the Government of Moscow, attracted over 300,000 visitors from various parts of Russia and Asian countries. A standout event was the Emirati wedding display, which enthralled spectators with its ancestral wedding customs. The bride, adorned in traditional attire, was escorted by women to the groom's home where traditional rituals took place.

The 'Ayala' dance, a traditional performance where participants form two lines facing each other, dancing and singing to the beat of tambourines and drums, mesmerized thousands of onlookers, many of whom captured the moment on their phones. Niki Kozilov, a Moscow resident, attended with friends to experience Emirati culture. “I've been to Dubai twice but never witnessed the 'Ayala' dance or experienced Emirati culture, which I now regret. The synchronized movement with the rhythm was captivating. My next visit to the Emirates will focus on learning and experiencing this culture,” Kozilov shared.

Attendees also enjoyed Emirati band performances, a fashion show set to Emirati music, and the chance to savor national delicacies and popular UAE dishes. “When we look up the UAE online, we only see modern architecture, adventure, and luxury living. But there's more to it,” remarked Anastasia, a visitor from St Petersburg.

The event offered a deep dive into Emirati culture with activities like temporary henna tattoos, craft displays, and a photo exhibition highlighting the UAE's breathtaking landscapes. Anya Petrova, an engineer at MTC Telecommunications, got her first henna design. “I've always wanted a henna design. Seeing it on a friend from India inspired me. I finally got it and it's beautiful. The enthusiasm among Russians was so high that I waited over an hour in line,” Anya said.

The event drew over 40,000 visitors on the first evening alone, culminating with over 300,000 experiencing the cultural festivities. This event is part of a series held reciprocally under the bilateral cooperation framework between Russia and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States (GCC). “This will be part of a reciprocal cycle of events under bilateral cooperation,” stated Natalia Sergunina, Deputy Mayor of Moscow.

“Our countries' partnership is growing in various sectors, including tourism. In 2023, over 42,000 UAE travelers visited Moscow—eight times more than the previous year. This trend continued into the first quarter of 2024—we're seeing continued growth,” Sergunina added. Besides cultural exchanges, the countries are also strengthening tourism ties. UAE travelers do not require a visa to enter Russia, and in 2023, Moscow welcomed 42,200 tourists from the UAE. By early February, there were 150 weekly flights from Moscow to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.