With 29 countries taking part, this year's Sharjah Heritage Days might be just the event to satisfy any increasing senses of wanderlust.
From Belarusian folk dances to Indian theatrical performances, the annual cultural event has more than 500 cultural shows and activities lined up over its three-week programme.
The event, taking place between this Saturday and April 10, will be held at the Heart of Sharjah district and the Khorfakkan heritage area. Covid-19 precautionary measures will be put in place at the two venues to safeguard the health and safety of visitors and participants. Among these are two entry and exit gates equipped with thermal detectors, social distancing signs and posters, availability of masks and sanitisers, and daily sterilisation of the various venues.
The programme will give visitors the chance to experience the unique customs, traditions, foods, arts and clothing of more than 24 nations, including Macedonia, Bashkortostan, Tajikistan, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Kenya, Italy, Spain, France, Netherlands as well as countries from across the Middle East region.
The guest of honour at the event – held under the theme "cultural heritage gathers us" – is Montenegro.
"This year, Sharjah Heritage Days is being held under special circumstances presented by the Covid-19 pandemic," Abdulaziz Al Musallam, chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage, said at a press conference on Monday at the Cultural Heritage Activities Centre.
“Through the festival we aim to reinforce Sharjah’s message that preserving our heritage and sharing our identity with others safeguards humankind as a whole and brings people together, revealing our similarities to each other. This is something we need more than ever.” .
What to expect
Though the event's agenda is yet to be revealed, Al Musallam offered a sneak peek into what to expect at Sharjah Heritage Days this year.
The programme features vibrant folk performances from participating countries as well as a range of seminars and workshops on traditional Arab heritage.
Several events will highlight the traditions of the UAE, such as its eight folkloric arts and dances, which include Ayyala, Nuban, Andima, Razif and Rawahh, Harbiya, Liwa, Habban and Daan.
One of its exciting initiatives is the Folklore Documentation Project. The project aims to scientifically document UAE's audiovisual heritage and provide a historical overview of the diverse art forms and its musical instrument artisanship.
More than 80 stores will be put up across the two sites, where visitors can purchase traditional fragrances, incense and clothing, as well as try several flavourful cultural dishes.
A special children's area, the Child Village, will offer more than 200 activities comprising workshops, storytelling sessions and family programmes throughout the three weeks. Children can also look forward to participating in a host of traditional games.
A Cultural Cafe will host lectures and book launches of more than a dozen titles by the Sharjah Institute for Heritage.
A new addition to Sharjah Heritage Days this year is the Oasis of Reading that will be home to works from the Al Mawrooth Library and several local publishers. Eight exhibitions will also showcase various heritage collections, including photographs, pottery, manuscripts and folk instruments.