ABU DHABI // The Liwa Date Festival has been moved forward to make way for a sister event in Ajman.
The traditional Liwa Date Festival will now take place from July 12 to 21 - rather than starting on July 16 as had been planned. It will be followed by the inaugural Ajman-Liwa Date Festival, which will take place from July 27 to 29.
The dates were chosen so that both events could take place before Ramadan, which is expected to start on August 1.
Obeid Al Mazrouei, the director of the Liwa festival, said the Ajman event would be easier for people from Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah and Umm al Qaiwain to visit.He said the festival would complement Ajman's annual camel contest - usually held in February - and help the emirate to "complete the whole set for UAE culture".
The Ajman event is being organised by the emirate's Culture and Media Department. Fatima Al Musafri, the director of events management, said the decision to replicate the festival was supported by Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid, Ruler of Ajman, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
"The festival has been held in Al Gharbia for years and date palm trees are our most expensive assets so why not do it in Ajman as well?" she said. "We don't have anything of that sort in the Northern Emirates so we wanted to be the first to do it."
Most of the activities that usually take place at the Liwa Date Festival will also take place at the Ajman event. A date competition is scheduled but the prizes and the festival's location are yet to be determined. "We still don't know how many people are expected to show up nor the number of participants, it's too early," said Ms Musafri. "But we are working on it."
She expected only Emiratis to participate "since they are the only ones who own farms in the country".
Obeid al Mazrouei said there would be a surprise at the Liwa festival, and possibly in Ajman too: a new type of fruit. Mr Mazrouei was keeping the details under wraps yesterday, but promised a further announcement today.