The variety of dates on offer at the fourth International Date Palm Festival yesterday was sure to tickle the taste buds of even the most selective fan of the fruit.
An oasis of dates formed the focal point of the event, where visitors could indulge in as many of the treats as they pleased.
After three previous - and smaller - exhibitions in Al Ain, the event moved to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) this year.
Palm tree climbing, theatrical performances and date tasting were some of the highlights of the festival. Experts said this healthy treat was often taken for granted.
Manal Abbas, a technical manager at the Al Ain Dates Factory, said care was taken in every aspect of production, from planting to distribution.
In addition to being a symbol of Arabic culture, the date business has proved lucrative in the Emirates because of its product range such as molasses, syrups and desserts.
"The date industry is the second-most profitable industry after oil," Ms Abbas said. "Our Prophet Mohammed stressed the importance of taking care of the palm tree because it needs to be maintained throughout the year, unlike other trees, which have seasons."
Ahmed Fouad Mohamed Said, an expert systems consultant at the Ministry of Environment and Water, said date palms had a unique ability to withstand all climate variations, which was a boon given the UAE's 40 million date palms.
Rich in nutrients, dates can be tailored for specific health needs.
"Each type of date varies in sugar and calorie levels," said Mohammed Fouad, a sales executive with Emirates Dates. The festival continues until Saturday.