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Al Dharfa Festivel

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The greatest showcase of Bedouin lifestyle

The Al Dhafra Festival, a two-week event, embodies the spirit of Arab heritage. Attracting lovers of heritage from across generations, the Al Dhafra Festival draws visitors from different nationalities who wish to experience UAE’s national identity and Bedouin life and culture.

Held annually under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy commander-in-chief of the UAE armed forces, the Festival is an opportunity for the younger generation to celebrate their heritage. Various events help to educate attendees about the UAE’s traditions, culture and indigenous heritage.

Weeks before the official opening of the festival in December, on the outskirts of the Empty Quarter desert and its magnificent sand dunes, caravans belonging to camel owners, tribes and Sheikhs alike, start making their way to Al Dhafra from many parts of the Arabian peninsula. Eventually, hundreds of men and women from the various regional tribes and thousands of only purebred camels from the Asayel and Majaheem lineage, all converge on the festival grounds – a truly breathtaking spectacle to behold.

The festival programme kicks off with the famous Mazayna, a beauty contest for camels and a celebration of this most beloved animal that played a huge role in sustaining life in these arid lands long before the era of oil and wealth.

Festival visitors will listen to cheers and traditional tribal chants in awe and admiration, when the winning camels are announced. This is done by marking the head of the animal with a paste made with the expensive and rare saffron, along with other aromatics.

Besides Mazayna, the festival programme includes 16 different competitions such as Mahaleb Competition, Falcon Mazayna, Arab Saluki Beauty Contest, Arabian Saluki Traditional Race Championship (2000 metres), Best Dates’ Mazayna and Dates’ Packaging Competition, Classic Cars Competition, Purebred Arabian Horse Race, Ghanam Al Naim Mazayna

Sour Milk Competition, Handicrafts Competition and the Children’s corner.

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