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Highlights from all the Committees festivals and Events


More heritage shows and a special camp for visitors expected to attract people from all over the UAE and beyond

The camel milk competition, inspired by the ancient Bedouin tradition of keeping and caring for camels, was the first contest to open Al Dhafra Festival, taking place in Madinat Zayed’s desert, in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate, from 13th to 29th December.

As in previous years, the competition attracted hundreds of participants in the three categories, Asayel (golden-red camel breed, original to Oman), Majahim (the black camel of Saudi Arabia) and hybrid camels. The camels giving the most and best tasting milk were the winners of each category, which this year awarded prizes with a total value of AED one million. Each camel in the top winners produced over 10 liters of milk.

Along with camel milk, the Festival opened with a sour milk contest – known locally as laban – and, for the first time at Al Dhafra, the saluki beauty competition that will conclude on Saturday evening

Organised by the Abu Dhabi Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee – Abu Dhabi, Al Dhafra festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and it does so with new competitions, more activities and a bigger focus on visitors.

“We have achieved a lot in the past 10 years. Through Al Dhafra Festival we have created a platform for the UAE citizens and residents to express their pride for the UAE heritage and continue to preserve it and pass it on to their children,” said Abdullah Butti Al Qubaisi, Director of Projects Management and Communication at the Committee.

“We added two new competitions to the festival this year, the falcon beauty one and the saluki beauty, to answer calls from saluki and falcon owners in the Western Region to have more such competitions for them and, of course, to follow the instructions of His Highness, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, to support  and increase the number of competitions and to have more content that proves, through the number of participants and visitors, that the Festival is contributing to the preservation of our heritage. Looking over the Festival’s site, I would say we have succeeded to give everyone reasons to be proud of our traditions,” he added.

Days before Al Dhafra Festival opened its desert gates, one truck convoy after another, transporting camels, sheep, fire wood, supplies, tents, was entering Madinat Zayed, setting up camp over the gentle dunes at the foothills of the Empty Quarters.

This year, the organisers expect over 1,500 participants and at least 25,000 camels to enter the competitions, which will award 1,200 prizes with a total value of AED 35 million.

Among the 16 heritage activities planned at the Festival there is the Handicrafts competition, opened to both Emirati men and women, which has just started this Saturday, 17th December, and will conclude at the end of the event. The challenge is to make to measure a cover in a particular size for any of the winning camels in the Camel Mazeinah (beauty competition).

Inspired by the authentic Emirati heritage, the cover must be handmade and decorated with heritage ornaments like “Al Tarabish” (tassels), golden liras, Al Telli (weaved silvery and golden threads), Al Zari cloth and so on.

Classic cars, pure Arabian horse race, sheep beauty competition, children’s village, best dates and dates packaging competitions, a bigger souk and the falcon mazaynah, the falcon beauty show, which is organized for the first time at the Festival by Al Marzoum’s traditional hunting grounds, are among the happening of Al Dhafra.

“This year we also plan to attract more visitors and we have different programmes to do this. One of them is our Committee's hospitality camp, where we have dedicated tents for visitors; if they wish to spend time in the desert, in a tent, this is an opportunity for them,” concluded Abdullah Al Qubaisi.