Smoking Dokha UAE Heritage
Smoking Dokha UAE Heritage
Dokha tobacco, also known as Arabic tobacco, remains an important part of UAE culture and heritage, with a rich history dating back centuries. Initially, when Dokha was acknowledged by the wealthiest in society as a relaxing leisure-time experience, its use proliferated quickly and nowadays it is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds and considered a symbol of hospitality and generosity. It is often shared among friends and family during social gatherings.
Dokha Arabic tobacco is grown at high altitude which allows the tobacco plants to benefit from the cool of the evenings and intense daytime sunlight with minimal rainfall.
Tending to the tobacco plants is undertaken by small holding farmers, whose knowledge and expertise in the sewing, growing and harvesting of these precious plants is passed down from generation to generation. They ensure that the water supply is sustainably channelled and that there is no pest infestation of the plants.
The process of harvesting and curing Dokha tobacco is a time-consuming and labour-intensive process. Dokha Arabic tobacco is traditionally harvested around August time. Once the plants have matured, the farmers strip the plants of their leaves, grade them and then hang them up to dry in barn-like structures over several weeks. This method of drying the leaves ensures that the nicotine content is drawn and concentrated at the tips of the leaves.
Grading of the leaves is important – where the leaves come from on the tobacco plant will ultimately give the farmer his different strengths and blends.
Dokha is graded into cold (Light or Blue), warm (Medium or Gold) and hot (Hot or Red) Dokha blends.
Light or Blue Dokha is usually the preference of beginners to smoking Dokha as this blend gives the smoker a light, smooth on the inhale satisfying ‘buzz’.
Medium or Gold Dokha is enjoyed by the ‘regular’ Dokha smoker who smoke it at various times of the day, every day.
Hot or Red Dokha tobacco is not for beginners or the feint hearted, as it can be extremely hot on the back of the throat. Just because Hot or Red Dokha is very strong, it does not necessarily give the smoker any bigger ‘buzz’ than a cooler smoother blend.
There are many different blends of Dokha tobacco on offer, each with its own unique flavour and strength. Some blends are mild and smooth, while others are more robust and full-bodied. The flavour of each blend is influenced by the soil and climate in which the tobacco is grown, as well as the curing, grading and eventual shredding process.
To achieve a specific strength or flavour of a Dokha blend, the farmer will choose where he takes the leaves from the plant. The very best leaves come from the top of the plant, however to achieve a specific strength or blend the farmer will often mix the leaves from different parts of the plant. He may choose to use all of the leaves from the top of the plant to create a Premium medium blend, or he may decide to mix some of the top leaves with those at the bottom of the pant for an over-warm standard blend. Equally he may decide to choose only the top and middle leaves to create his masterpiece of a Medium blend.
Whatever blends eventually evolve they have to be packaged and sold before the farmer can reap his reward for all his hard labour in the heat of the sun – sometimes in conditions upwards of 40 degrees.
Dokha is traditionally smoked through a Medwakh pipe, sometimes spelled Midwakh. This style of pipe differs substantially from Western smoking pipes due to the very small bowl which contains the Dokha Arabic tobacco. Each pipe is hand carved from a single piece of wood – Briar wood has been used for centuries to make unique Medwakh pipes. Briar wood is strong and Artisans sometimes engraves the stem of the pipe with local emblems such as the Hawk or Horse which are symbols of strength and hierarchy.
Nowadays Artisan craftsmen use a variety of materials such as animal bone, resin and aluminium and can often include precious stones. There are thousands of styles to choose from, designed to be small and portable, making it easy to carry and smoke on-the-go. The optimum length of a Medwakh smoking pipe is about 6 inches. Whatever the length or design of your chosen Medwakh, the end result has to deliver a smooth invigorating smoke of Dokha tobacco.
For a consistently fresh smoke, it is important to clean and maintain your Medwakh pipe regularly. Cleaning your Medwakh pipe ensures all stale tobacco flakes and excess tar is removed before re-filling your bowl with fresh Dokha for a more pleasurable smoking experience.
With a variety of different blends available, each with its own unique flavour and strength, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So why not experience the UAE Heritage of smoking Dokha for yourself.