A guide to AlUla Dates Festival: from markets to produce

The fair aims to link local farmers with investors and the public

AlUla Dates Festival has expanded its programme to welcome visitors every evening in its third and final week until 17 October with farmers and family producers selling and showcasing their dates and other handicrafts and delicacies.

AlUla Dates Festival has hit the sweet spot this year.

More than 10,000 people have visited the festival since it launched in October, according to Midwam, the Saudi events company that organised it along with the Royal Commission for AlUla. So the event has now been extended for one more weekend, ending on Saturday.

The festival is a celebration of the region's local harvesters and a showcase of their varied produce.

Mohamed Al Shamari, chief economic and social development officer at the Royal Commission for AlUla says the festival aims to provide a personal experience for visitors.

"For us, dates are more than just food – they’re our community’s heritage and history, our tradition and culture," he said. "This is a chance to connect directly with our farmers drawing on over 2,000 years of experience and generations of stories.

Here is what you need to know about AlUla Dates Festival.

What is it?

It is a festival highlighting the agricultural treasures of AlUla.

Where the region is fast-becoming a tourist hot spot for history buffs and adventure seekers, amid those breathtaking landscapes and lush valleys lie nearly 2.5 million date palm trees producing an average of 90,000 tons of dates annually.

With the region known for the diversity of its dates, the festival is both a showcase of the produce and an open-air market linking local farmers with international investors.

What happens there?

Held in Al Fursan village and running on weekends from Thursday to Saturday, the festival is both a destination for culture and food lovers as well as investors.

When it comes to the trade, serious business is done each weekend morning with commercial auctions running from 6am to 9am.

The public are then able to sample and purchase the dates when the souq opens from 5pm to 9pm.

What’s on offer?

Date palms are nourished by the fertile soil of AlUla's many oases. Coupled with AlUla's long hot summers, the trees yield several varieties, including Barni dates, which comprise up to 80 per cent of the annual harvest.

Medium in size with a firm, golden brown exterior, they possess a weathered texture and are mildly sweet.

Other dates harvested in AlUla include the sweet and sticky Mabroom and the Mashrook date, which packs a sugary aftertaste.

AlUla Dates Festival runs until Saturday at Al Fursan village, AlUla, Saudi Arabia. More details are available at experiencealula.com

Updated: November 4th 2021, 2:27 PM