The oral tradition is central to Arab cultural heritage. This tradition has developed from the nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouin. Tribal chiefs and relatives often communicated with one another through poems. Creative inspiration in the desert found expression in folktales, proverbs, parables and poetry, often accompanied by music and dance. Poetry was the way in which each generation learned about genealogy, history and the location of tribal territories, grazing areas and oases. 

As well as poetry, Muslims take pride in their ability to recite passages from the Qu'ran from memory. Special competitions are held to encourage the memorization and recitation of the holy book.

Groups of folk singers, dancers and musicians perform at almost every celebration. Among the most popular dances are the ayyalah, which is the re-enactment of a battle scene, the liwa, which was brought to the Gulf by East African traders, and the noban, which has its origins in Nubia, a southern region of Upper Egypt. 
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The Dubai Museum contains archaeological finds that give us insight into a culture that has existed for more than 4,000 years.
These songs and dances are accompanied by traditional instruments. The tamboura is a relative of early harps found in other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures. The manior is a percussion instrument that must be worn in order to be played. The player wraps the instrument around the body like a skirt and dances, which makes the manior produce a clapping sound. Drums of different sizes also accompany the ayyalah. The bigger drums are known as al-Ras, the smaller are called takhamir.

 Songs and music were not always simply entertainment. In the past, singing rhythmic chants was a way of easing the burden of work. It is believed that Arabic singing, known as hudaa, originated in the verses sung to encourage desert travellers on their long journeys. As well, singing was a source of comfort for the men engaged in pearl fishing, who had to endure long periods of time away from their families. 

When pearling was at its height, the most important manufacturing industry in the Gulf was boat building. The boats were known as dhows and their construction is still very much a part of Emirati life. The dhow shipyards in the Emirates continue this ancient boat-building tradition, using the same basic materials and tools to build the craft.

 Islamic art is based on fine calligraphy and abstract patterns. Muslims do not depict realistic scenes in their artwork. Some of the artwork takes the form of beautiful rugs and wall hangings.