Past Remembrance - Glossary

While Safia's Archaeological Adventures was created with an Emirati audience in mind, we hope readers from all over the world will enjoy following Safia. Therefore, we include this glossary for Past Remembrance of things that may be unfamiliar to some people regarding culture, setting, environment, and wildlife.


A simple, loose, full-length overgarment worn by some Muslim women.


'Arish are shelters built mainly from  date palm tree materials. They are sometimes called barasti.


Mangrove or other wood was used to construct the rectangular frame for the structure and the walls and roof covered with date palm stems and branches bound with rope made of date palm fibre.


‘Arish are a common type of construction found throughout Southeastern Arabia. Similar buildings were used in the Bronze Age, but all that remains of these are the post-holes where the poles stood in the ground.


Click image to enlarge.


Photo: M. Ziolkowski


Tea, often made with milk, sugar and spices.

Chaniyo choli and chunni

An upper wear ensemble of traditional Gujarati women’s dress.


It consists of a top or blouse (choli) and a full-length skirt (chaniyo) and is complemented by a chunni, a long scarf worn around the head and shoulders.

Church of the East

The Church of the East is an ancient church that developed east of the Roman Empire in Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia. It is an Apostolic church, meaning its creation is associated with the Apostles, specifically St Thomas, St Thaddeus, and St Bartholomew. During the first century AD, the Church of the East was established in the city of Edessa (originally part of Upper Mesopotamia). In 280 AD, it became officially organised under the Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Papa bar Gaggai of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. In 410 AD it renounced all subjection to the See of Antioch.


Image: Stylised decoration of palmettes, fleur-de-lis, and crosses based on a plaster fragment from the church on Sir Bani Yas. K. Davis.


Definition source:


The physician of the gods or celestial beings in Hinduism.




Image Source: History of Ayurveda - Who was Dhanvantari? Why is he important in Ayurveda?



A long loincloth traditionally worn in southern Asia by Hindu men.


It is wrapped around the hips and thighs, with one end drawn between the legs and tucked into the waistband.


A dhoti looks a little like baggy, knee-length trousers.




A system of channels used to distribute water to farms and villages. The earliest aflaj (pl) in Southeastern Arabia date from the Iron Age II period (1,000 - 600 BC). There are two main types of falaj, qanat and ghayl


Ghayl falaj is an aboveground channel system that collects runoff water from wadis, streams, and mountain slopes.


Qanat falaj taps into underground water sources known as aquifers. The water flows through an underground channel or water gallery and can be accessed through aboveground wellheads. The underground water channels eventually reach the surface and provide water for agricultural fields and settlements.


Play the video below to see water running through a falaj channel.


Photo and video: M. Ziolkowski

Ghaf tree

A flowering tree native to the United Arab Emirates and other counties in the region.


It can withstand drought and stay green even in harsh desert conditions.


It is the national tree of the UAE and represents stability and peace.



In Past Remembrance, a couple of the characters use the phrase, 'Grendizer aaleeeee!' when they are excited about something.


It is the catchphrase from the Arabic version of the theme song for the Japanese anime series UFO Robot Grendizer.


'Grendizer aaleeeee!' can be translated as 'Grendizer, fly!'


The show first aired in the UAE in 1979 and became very popular by the late 1980s and is still well known today.


Safia enjoys retro stuff, and the image to the right was the inspiration for one of the scenes in Past Remembrance.


Click image to enlarge.


Image: Michele's husband and son, Suhail, standing beside the massive inflatable Grendizer figure at Manarat Al Saadiyat.


Photo: M. Ziolkowski


Guardians of the Eight Directions

A group of eight deities in Hindu lore who rule specific directions in space (North, South, East, West, Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest).


They are known as Aṣṭa-Dikpāla, and images of the deities are often shown on temple walls and ceilings.


In Past Remembrance, Savita ben wears earrings with small stones symbolising The Guardians, shown in the picture to the right.  


Image: Savita ben's earring. K. Davis



In Vedic beliefs, Indra is considered the most important god. He is a major figure in Hinduism and is considered the god of thunder, lightning, storms, and rain.


He rides a four-tusked white elephant and wields a weapon that discharges thunderbolts.


In Past Remembrance, Savita ben calls on Indra to protect her and her family from a fierce storm.


Click image to enlarge.


A type of sweet dumpling that is often enjoyed during Ramadan.


The dumplings are soft and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.


They are awesome with date syrup and sprinkled with sesame seeds.


In Past Remembrance, they are Safia's favourite treat and she says she will tell Savita ben how to make them. 


Photo: M. Ziolkowski.


The Gujarati word for mother.


The Arabic word for a netting needle - a tool used by fishermen to repair holes in fishing nets.


Netting thread is wrapped end to end. A point at one end is used like a needle to ‘sew’ or reweave the repair. 


Click image to enlarge.


Image: Netting tools.

Photo: M. Ziolkowski.


Also known as agarwood, is a dark, fragrant resin that forms when a particular mould infects an agar tree.


It is used to make perfumes and perfumed oils. The woodchips are burned as incense.


Click image to enlarge.


Photo: M. Ziolkowski


The Gujarati word for father.


In Hinduism, Ravana is a ten-headed, twenty-armed king of demons. 


In Past Remembrance, Savita ben refers to Ravana's heads when she is upset.


Rimth Bush

A widespread woody shrub in the UAE. It is almost leafless and can stand up to 1.5 metres high.


There is usually an accumulation of sand around its base called a drift, and can be found in stable sand or on alluvial gravel plains of the stony desert.


Image source: Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve



A person from one of the northern European tribes that invaded and settled in southern England from 410 AD. London was in Saxon territory.


Source and Attribution: Anglo-Saxon Homelands and Settlements.svg. In Wikipedia. mbartelsm


Creative Commons Licence - Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unreported.


Click image to enlarge.


A type of head covering worn by Muslim women in the UAE.


It consists of a long piece of cloth wrapped around the head.

Sooty Gull

(larus hemprichii)


Exclusively an island breeding species of seagull found in the Arabian Gulf.


The gull has a white belly, grey head and wings, and a yellow beak tipped in red and black.


It is currently listed as a regional priority species by BirdLife International (BLI), and there are two breeding colonies on the islands of Abu Dhabi Emirate.


Image Source: Environmental Atlas of Abu Dhabi Emirate


A dry riverbed in the mountains that becomes a river or stream after heavy rainfall.


A wadi in spate (flowing) can pose a danger as heavy rains wash boulders, trees, and silty soil along its path.


Click image to enlarge.


Image: A dry wadi bed among the mountains (above).


Image: a wadi in spate after rainfall (below).


Photos: M. Ziolkowski

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Resource illustrations as stated.
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