Preparations underway for Liwa Date Festival

The festival in Liwa in Al Gharbia, runs from July 12 to 18 and features a wide range of Emirati heritage and art activities from fruit competitions to a traditional market.

Competitors last year preparing for opening night at the Liwa Date Festival, the 10th edition of which opens on July 12, 2014. Razan Alzayani / The National
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ABU DHABI // Preparations are under way for the launch of the 10th Liwa Date Festival, which for the second year in a row takes place during Ramadan.

The festival in Liwa, Al Gharbia, runs from Saturday until July 18 and features a wide range of Emirati heritage and art activities, from fruit competitions to a traditional market.

Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, adviser for culture and heritage at the court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and chairman of the cultural programmes and heritage festivals committee in Abu Dhabi, said the palm tree would be a major focus, something deeply connected to Emirati heritage and culture.

“We do not want this tree to remain only a part of a past that we celebrate. Until today, we still listen to tales about the different rituals that have been practised in preparation for Al Ratab [date] season. There are tales and stories that are known only by the skilled and experienced fathers who, despite old age, continue to practise these traditions and work towards their transmission to future generations.”

The half-ripe dates competition is a highlight of the festival, with the fruit gathered two months before the festivities begin.

The festival, held on an area of more than 20,000 square metres, has become a major tourist event.

“The significance of the Liwa Date Festival arises out of an ability to draw all lovers of heritage and tradition, as well as those interested in land resources, half-ripe dates and civilisational legacy,” said Obaid Khalfan Al Mazrouei, the festival’s director. “The palm tree cultivation is not only a heritage and tradition but also a present [time] that we are living and trying to transmit to future generations.”

He said the festival, which is open from 8pm to 1am, “is considered the most important event in the Liwa region at the Gate of the Empty Quarter because it offers farmers a unique opportunity to meet with a public of different nationalities and ages”.

This year’s festival will for the first time launch the model farm award and the fruits of the house competition for local farmers.

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