Bassata translates into simplicity and is synonymous with the traditional Bedouin way of life. The rich nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouins dates back between 2500 and 3000 BC. They created simple yet beautiful traditions that continue in parts of the emirate today. For centuries, they would move around the region in nomadic cycles to find cooler weather, water and fertile land for their animals. Even though they were constantly on the move, they would ensure comfortable accommodation, plentiful food, and entertainment.
The Bedouins would erect tents in the desert when they decided they would stay for a while. The Bedouins made their tents from goat or camel hair or sheep wool. The women would weave the fibres into tight shiqaq, strips of fabric that would cover the walls and the tent’s roof to protect them and their animals from the extreme weather conditions.
As entertainment, the Bedouins would chant Taghrouda, a mesmerising form of poetry composed and narrated by men as they travelled through the desert on camels. They believed that the hypnotic rhythm would encourage the camels to walk in step. The poems are linguistically creative, with improvised praise and parody sung at celebrations and around campfires. Nabati is another form of poetry spoken by non-Arabic natives.
Bedouins are known for their keen sense of loyalty, and they treat their guests with friendly respect and share their food, coffee, dates and dried fruits. This tradition is strongly revered and upheld in Emirati life today.
Belly dancing and folkloric tanoura became popular and influenced as the Bedouins moved across the Middle East. The traditional tanoura dance originates from Syria, and the whirling, skirt and dancer are all known by the same name. The endless circular swirling motion of the tanoura dance depicts the movement of the universe and the philosophy of life. Tanoura dancers represent the planets, and the various stories connect the men to the divine, which nod to the relationship of the land and the sky, man and Allah.
Eating and drinking
The Bedouins have a staple diet of goat meat, rice, flour, nuts and dried fruit. They would traditionally cook their food on campfires or in the sand. Goat and camel milk, tea and coffee are popular drinks. They favour two types of coffee, plain coffee qahwa sada, or sweet coffee qahwa helwe.
The Bassata programme
You can experience a day in the life of a Bedouin and learn more about their traditions. Nature lovers will enjoy being in the vast plains of desert and ride in a caravan of camels, take in the breathtaking scenery and wander through the acacia trees that pepper the landscapes. You can have an exquisitely drawn henna tattoo penned by a local Bedu woman back at the village. For those that are more adventurous, why not try your hand at sandboarding? Not typically Bedouin tradition, but lots of fun.
The chefs will prepare a variety of traditional fayre on an open grill with succulent meats and vegetables. The buffet is served with lots of delicious Arabic side dishes and warm, freshly made bread to give you an authentic taste of Bedouin living. The Bassata village is a replica of a typical Bedouin village where you can experience a true nomadic existence. You will watch in awe the lythe movements of the belly and tanoura dancers. Tell stories of your 1001 Arabian Nights adventures under twinkling stars around a crackling campfire.