ABU DHABI // Visitors can taste more than 200 varieties of date, watch demonstrations by celebrity cooks and listen to traditional poetry at the Fourth International Date Palm Festival which opens today.
The festival is showcasing more than 100 exhibitors and offering family entertainment.
National pavilions are displaying dates from Oman, Iraq, Jordan and Morocco.
Qaboos Khalid, the director of the festival at Turret Media, said the festival might attract pavilions from Europe next year.
Celebrity chefs are demonstrating how to cook the winning dishes from a date recipe competition, while visitors can try date milkshakes, sauces and dinners.
Al Foah Company, assigned to improve the country's date industry, is showcasing a range of new products made from local varieties. "[The festival] will help open channels of communication between the producers and the manufacturers of dates," said the company's general manager, Saeed Salem Mesarri al Hamli.
A children's zone offers face painting, sculpting and photography, while more adventurous children can learn to climb a date palm with the fastest winning a prize.
Students from around 12 schools have created competitions, lectures and film shows which run daily at the Date Theatre area. Tawam Hospital has recreated an oasis, complete with palm trees, where visitors can cool off.
Previously held in Al Ain, the festival has moved to Abu Dhabi to attract more visitors and raise the profile of the industry.
"For fresh dates, holding the festival where the crops are is OK, but for dried and packaged dates, Abu Dhabi is where the demand is," said Fadi Saad, the event organiser.
The festival runs until Saturday.