History lovers are digging into the UAE's rich past at one of the largest archaeological sites in the country.
Members of the public are being invited to take a step back in time before they usher in a new year by embarking on an eye-opening tour of Ed-Dur, in Umm Al Quwain.
A workshop - running until January 3 and organised by Umm Al Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology - is being held to help shed new light on a 2,000 year-old building recently discovered at the site.
It is just the latest treasure from the past unearthed at Ed-Dur since excavation began in the 1970s, with previous finds including everything from ancient temples, tombs and houses to jewellery, pottery and statues dating back to the Roman era.
Organisers are hoping the discovery will stir up lots of interest and spark plenty of debate.
“There are around 120 archaeological sites in Umm Al Quwain and Ed-Dur is the largest one of them and was discovered by an Iraqi archaeologist in 1974,” said Rania Kannouma, head of the archaeology department at UAQ Department of Tourism and Archaeology.
“We picked a newly discovered ruins at the site to be the place for the workshop as we didn’t identify the ruins yet, if it’s a grave or a house, and that should make it exciting for participants.
“We have been organizing the archaeology exploration workshops since 2000. It is part of our community initiatives aimed at highlighting the unique archaeological sites in the emirate and to educate people about the country's rich history.”
Ed-Dur lies along the south-east coast of the Arabian Gulf and overlooks the shallow lake of Khor Al Beidha.
It is surrounded by high sand dunes, which protect it from the northern offshore wind that prevails in the region.
Saif Ali Ali, a 26-year-old Emirati, is among the visitors eager to learn more about his homeland's history and says it is the "most exciting" thing he has taken part in.
“It’s a hobby that I inherited from my father who likes to collect artefacts and has a passion for history and archaeology,” said Mr Al Ali.
“This has made me become curious to know more about the pieces we had at home and what they were used for and which era they represent, so I took one piece to the archaeology department and it was dated back to the Neolithic period.
“So when I heard about the workshop I immediately called to book a spot and until now it’s the most exciting thing I have ever done,” he said.
Mr Al Ali, along with the other participants, was first introduced to excavation tools and techniques and the story behind Ed-Dur site.
“I learned how to slowly remove the sand and dirt on and around the ruins and how to use the different tools such as the small hand shovels, trowel and brushes,” he said.
“I will keep visiting the site even after the workshop finishes as I want to see what kind of building it’s going to be,” said Mr Al Ali.
Another enthusiast, who came all the way from Ras Al Khaimah to take part in the workshop, said that she always feels a sense of calm when at historical places.
“It keeps you feel calm and teaches you how to be patient and in peace with yourself and the world around you,” said Mariam Al Zaabi, 40-year-old Emirati with a degree in History and Archaeology.
“I wish to see more workshops organised in the northern emirate as this will help the younger generations to reconnect with the past and learn more about our history and our ancestors,” she said.
Ms Al Zaabi said that parents should encourage their children to attend similar workshops as most of them have lack of information regarding the country’s roots.
“Not everyone knows about the UAE’s archaeological and historical places and that should be highlighted more through similar workshops to live the excitement,” she said.
Alyaa Al Ghfli, director-general of the UAQ Department of Tourism and Archaeology, said that the organisation's members have overseen the protection and maintenance of the Ed-Dur site since 2000.
“The excavation work is still going on and we hope that it will provide us in the future with a lot of distinctive pieces and information about the customs and traditions of the inhabitants,” said Ms Al Ghfli.
“We will keep organising workshops and seminars to introduce the public to these discoveries and give them the opportunity to take part.”
For more information about the workshop and how to get involved, contact the UAQ Department of Tourism and Archaeology on 06 765 0888.