Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fifth Liwa Date Festival kicks of

This year the popular festival has a number of new features, such as a traditional market and children's tent.

Abu Dhabi: With total prize money of about Dh3 million, the fifth Liwa date festival will kick of in Al Gharbia (formerly the Western Region) on Friday morning, organisers have said.

The festival is being organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) under the patronage of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and aims to preserve the heritage of Abu Dhabi.

"Palm and ratab [dates] represent a fundamental pillar of our local history, embody the community of the UAE and the continuation of the major process initiated by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who founded the country's agricultural renaissance," said Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazroui, Chairman of the supreme committee of the festival and director-general of ADACH, in a press conference held on Wednesday at the Cultural Foundation.

"One of the primary goals and objectives of the festival is to preserve the national culture of palm and ratab dates via the encouragement of farmers to achieve a greater quality of ratab dates, in order to access more opportunities for excellence and competitiveness at local and global levels," he said.

This year the festival presents a number of new events, such as a traditional market and children's tent.

"All festival visitors will be able to taste the different types of ratab dates, as the authority seeks to promote the culture of ratab dates and date palms to different generations in the country," he added.

The area of the festival in Mezera'a, the centre of Liwa, has also been expanded this year.

"The estimated total area of the festival tents are approximately 43,000 square metres, and the hospitality tent takes up almost 1,100 square metres, while the area for the children's tent is about 1,000 square meters of the area of the festival," said Obaid Khalfan Al Mazroui, director of the festival.

"We opened the ratab market to sell farmers' products directly to visitors, to encourage our citizens and farmers, making way for greater participation, as well as providing a space that can embrace a wide array of events, which includes for the first time in the history of the festival a variety of activities like a ratab competition, a traditional market, poetry evenings, traditional games and competitions on palms and agriculture, and a children's tent, electronic games and a children's theatre," he said.

Also, 11 government departments concerned with the cultivation of date palms and a number of specialist educational institutions and companies, which offer an exhibition of all that is new in the world of dates and give attention to the cultivation of palm dates will be taking part, reaching up to 60 companies, with the participation of producing families, which oversee the 140 shops in the market.

Fact file

The date competition this year is open to all farmers in the UAE and is divided into five categories - the five famous date types in the Western Region: Khallas, Al Dabbas, Bou Maan, Al Fardh, Al Nukhba in addition to the best heritage display.

In each category 15 winners are chosen by a committee. Winners in the first three positions are given four-wheel-drive cars and the rest of the winners will be given cash prizes of about Dh3 million.

Transportation to the festival is available from Abu Dhabi to Liwa, special buses are available at Marina Mall and Abu Dhabi Mall every day from 8am.

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