Jun 18 , 2015
Jun 18 , 2015
ABU DHABI - Preparations are underway for the launch of the 11th edition of the Liwa Date Festival which will be held from 22th until the 30th of July in Liwa city in Al Gharbia (The Western Region) in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Organised by the Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee – Abu Dhabi, the Festival is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
Over 11 years since the launch of the first edition, the Festival has turned into a major event on the calendar of the annual tourist festivals in Al Gharbia region. With an ability to attract about 70,000 tourists and visitors, including both nationals and residents, the Liwa Date Festival is an annual heritage event that is awaited by thousands of people from around the United Arab Emirates. The various activities of the Festival celebrate the heritage of the Emirati ancestors and revive their diverse traditions and unique way of life.
In the 2015 edition, the Festival features several traditional heritage and art activities that will be held on a daily basis from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm. With a total value of more than AED 6 million, 220 prizes are awaiting the winning participants in the various competitions, notably the Mazaynas (beauty competitions) for the best dates, best lemons and best mangoes, as well as the Tradition Market, the Dar Fruits Basket Competition (Fruits of the House), the Best Heritage Model competition, the Model Farm Award, and the activities of the Children’s Village. All these activities and competitions are held to celebrate the various customs and traditions and preserve the intangible heritage of the UAE, particularly the palm tree which occupies an eminent position in the authentic Emirati heritage and the collective memory of the Emirati society.
Director of the Liwa Date Festival, Mr. Obaid Khalfan Al Mazrouei said that “the Festival aims at providing a unique opportunity for the different generations to discover and learn about the heritage, and the traditions of the ancestors. The palm tree was and will remain a symbol of the history and culture of the Arab society, in general, and the Emirati society, in particular.”
“The historical status of the palm tree requires us to exert all the necessary efforts that are needed to enhance the role of the palm tree and dates in our daily life and preserve their eminent and esteemed position. According to the United Nations, the UAE has succeeded, over the last decades, in planting about 130 million trees, including 22 million palm trees, which constitutes 20% of the total number of palm trees in the world,” Mazrouei noted.
“We are still striving to achieve a global reality that is worth our pride, when it comes to the field of palm trees and dates. We also remain keen on preserving our historical and national legacy through the intensification of efforts that aim at encouraging the farmers to expand and develop the cultivation of good varieties of dates,” he added.
The intensive preparations for the new edition of the Liwa Date Festival are underway, with constant meetings to discuss all issues that are related to the administrative, logistical, security and media affairs required to ensure the achievement of the goals and mission of the Festival. The meetings are also an opportunity to discuss conditions for participation, evaluation mechanisms and coordination with all the concerned parties. All these intensive preparations and discussions are needed to guarantee the complementarity of roles, the saving of efforts and costs, and the encouragement of the local and regional community to take part in the activities of the Festival.
Mazrouei hailed the distinguished support of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, noting that “His Highness has always respected and valued the keenness of the Emirati society to preserve its social and cultural heritage, and ensure its transmission to future generations.”
An Edition Full of Surprises
As usual, the new edition of the Liwa Date Festival features a series of surprises that serve the various efforts made to preserve the cultural heritage of the UAE. For the third year in a row, three promotion rounds for the categories of Al Dabbas, Al Khallas, and Al Nukhba will be organised. The three rounds are intended for participants who have never won in any of the previous editions of the Festival. The objective consists in rewarding these participants for their continued partaking, as well as motivating and encouraging them to make further efforts to compete with others.
The categories of Al Ratab Beauty Competition, the main highlight of the Festival, will include: Al Kunaizi, Al Khallas, Al Dabbas, Bou Maan, Al Farth, Al Nukhba, and Biggest Etheg. Al Ratab competitions constitute a unique occasion of its kind to draw and encourage participants to compete for top positions. The announcement of the results follows the evaluation of farms according to precise and strict norms and conditions that involve the general hygiene at the farm, the palm tree maintenance, the use of the best irrigation methods to save water, and the commitment to deadlines when submitting samples in accordance with categories and in respect of the preset dates announced by the Committee.
The competition, Dar Fruits Basket (Fruits of the House), includes different and various fruits that should be locally produced and originating from the garden or the farm owned by the participant. A single participation should include no less than 5 varieties of fruits. The introduction of this competition comes as part of the efforts made by the Organising Committee of the Festival to develop this leading event, strengthen performance, and improve the quality of the local fruit production.
‘The Model Farm Award’ will honour the most hygienic farm. The registration for participation should take place on the first day of the Festival, and the results will be announced on the last day. The competition jury will inspect the farm throughout the year, not only during the Festival. The Model Farm Award aims at encouraging farmers to improve the quality of the product, maintain hygiene at the farm, restore old buildings at the property, develop the quality of the irrigation network, and preserve the quality of the soil and used materials.
Held for a fifth year in a row as part of the activities of the Liwa Date Festival, the competitions for the ‘Best Mangoes’ and ‘Best Lemons’ include local and mixed varieties.
The new edition will also feature the Best Heritage Model Competition. The rules for the competition stipulate the use of natural materials in the artwork, in any of the fields of the deep-rooted Emirati heritage. The jury will take into consideration the number of heritage pieces used in the artwork, the degree of workmanship, and the harmony between the used materials. The artwork should represent an aspect of the old way of life, and the dimensions of the model must range between 1X1 metre and 2X2 metres at highest.
Organised on the sidelines of the Festival, the Traditional Market is considered as a key part of this special annual event. All the products on display do reflect the spirit and the authenticity of the Emirati society. The Market provides a unique opportunity for the Emirati families to display tools, equipment, and handmade products that used to constitute an integral part of the daily lives of ancestors. These products are primarily derived from palm trees and dates. Over the years, the Festival has turned into an annual occasion to exhibit the latest innovations and food products that rely in their manufacture on half-ripe dates and dates, as well as palm-related materials.
The Liwa Date Festival has also a lot to offer to its young visitors who come with their parents to learn about the history of the palm tree and the authenticity of the Emirati heritage. The many exceptional activities include cultural competitions and workshops to draw, paint and educate the children about the benefits of this blessed tree.