The Local Otherness: Theatre Houses in the United Arab Emirates
This article examines the function of theatre houses in the United Arab Emirates. The article attempts to give answers to several theatrical controversies in UAE; such as why theatre, as an institution, has not developed in the same way other sectors has developed in the emirates? And what does theatre mean to the sheiks and the ruling classes? It is argued that theatre, as an activity and a building, is one of the rare venues that function to preserve the local identity.
Writings on theatre in UAE normally adopt historical and chorological approaches. The article adopts a geographical approach in order to relate theatre houses to the cities they are built in, and to relate theatre movements in the UAE to its bordering countries in the Arab Peninsula and to the ideologies in the Arabic speaking countries.
It is concluded that theatre in UAE is firmly associated with tradition, folklore and heritage. This association seeks to harmonise theatre with local culture and to correspond to Arabic ideologies that aim to authenticate theatre in the Arab culture.