Al Murabba Heritage Festival to celebrate the UAE’s rich tradition
Once a key surveillance tower and barracks for guards in the centre of Al Ain, the cavernous rooms and hallways of the three-storey Al Murabba Fort have lain empty for years, with visitors able to tour the historic landmark by appointment only.
During Eid Al Adha, the public will be given unprecedented access to the fort, thanks to the inaugural Al Murabba Heritage Festival, which begins on Thursday, September 8.
The family-friendly event – organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Abu Dhabi Police – celebrates the work and historical legacy of the police force through a series of parades, shows, exhibitions and cultural events.
It will also remember the times the fort was used as a police station and prison after it ceased to be a barracks.
“The festival will feature various events and activities centred on the UAE’s heritage and its establishment of the police [force],” says Colonel Saif Al Shamsi, head of Al Murabba Heritage Festival organising committee.
“Archival documentation of the country’s police will be displayed with visuals, documents, photos and shows. There will also be a section showcasing vintage and classic police cars, a horse parade, along with shows by the police band and K9 [police dog] services.”
Al Murabba Fort – the name of which translates as “square” – is so named because the rectangular fort appears like a square from certain angles.
It was built in 1948 on the orders of Sheikh Zayed, the Founding President of the UAE, during his rule of the eastern region. It is often given as a typical example of what the architecture of mud-brick government administrative buildings in the region looked like before the oil era. In addition to its past use as a police station, the fort was also once a gathering place for festivities and formal meetings of rulers and sheikhs.
“The fort played a significant role as a police and security centre since 1948,” says Al Shamsi. “It is time we shared its history.”
A range of cultural events are planned, along with an exhibition featuring displays by the Emirates Falcon Aviation, the Emirates Fire and Rescue Centre, Al Ain Zoo and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.
Daily parades and displays by members of Abu Dhabi Police will take place in the square in front of the fort.
“Festivals like these are our way of never forgetting the past nor the sacrifices of our ancestors,” say organisers at Abu Dhabi Police, who have established a Heritage Board tasked with preserving the force’s history, and who will showcase its legacy through a variety of events at the festival.
“Learning about something like Al Murabba Fort is part of our national pride. Our ancestors have left us a legacy of traditions of which we are proud. Our mission is to preserve and develop this tradition as a valuable asset for the nation and for future generations.”
Sheikh Zayed once said: “Documenting the heritage and history of our nation is a patriotic mandate, so people can know our past and how our ancestors lived before our wealth today.
“Newer generations need to know the role played by their fathers. They need to learn from them their abilities to work hard, sacrifice and fulfil their duties.”
• Al Murabba Heritage Festival in Al Ain begins on September 8 and continues until Tuesday, September 13. It runs from 5pm until 10pm each day. Admission is free
Published: September 7, 2016 04:00 AM