It is a national treasure in its own right, but the very finest the Emirates has to offer will be on show at the first Liwa Date Auction, a series of nightly auctions set to run over the next ten days.
The auctions will run nightly from 4pm until 9pm, between October 5 until October 14 in downtown Liwa, an oasis town in the Empty Quarter.
The announcement comes as farmers and date factories seek to build the country’s international reputation for organic dates.
The auction is hosted by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festival Committee, which organises the Liwa Date Festival, a popular annual farmers market that takes place in the oasis town of Liwa during the July harvest.
The auction has been launched due to popular demand.
“We have already had many people calling and asking us to host an auction,” said Obaid Al Mazrouei, the head of the organising committee. “We have organised the date festival for 13 years and people were asking why we didn’t have a date auction. We think this is the right time.”
Free registration for farmers opened in Liwa on Wednesday.
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Bidders will be able to sample a variety of dates on offer, from the small and popular dabbas date to the red hued kunaizi date and the slender bu ma’an.
“People have already showed their interest,” said Mr Al Mazrouei. “This will give people the chance to test the dates, see them and get the price.”
Some dates may sell for as little as Dh10 a kilogram. Each lot of dates will weigh at least three kilograms.
Farmers will set the minimum bid.
“People they are mature and they know what the prices are,” said Mr Al Mazrouei.
There will be a market for local farmers, date companies and distributors. Those who cannot make journey to Liwa, which is two and a half hours from the capital, can bid online with a new Liwa Date Auction app.
The committee expects interest from wholesalers, hotels, food companies and individuals looking to stock up on unique dates for the family majlis. In the Emirates, tradition dictates that any guest in the house is offered coffee and dates.
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Organisers declined to speculate on turnout but the Liwa Date Festival had more than 60,000 visitors in 2016.
The annual festival has restored interest among youth in date cultivation and not just because of its Dh5.2 million prize money. There is more than a little local prestige for young men like Rashed Abdullah, who won this year's biggest branch category with a 106kg bough this year. Photos of the branch were shared across social media platforms.
Government bodies are keen to see this interest translate into commercial farming.
A schedule of the auctions will be available in the coming days. They will run from 4pm until 9pm, between October 5 until October 14 in downtown Liwa.