AJMAN // The first Ajman-Liwa Date Festival wrapped up yesterday with the ruler of Ajman officially naming a new variety of the fruit.
The fully mature Al Hamidiyah date, planted by the Al Jamaa Palm company, was inaugurated by Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid at the close of the festival in Ajman.
"This happens only every five to six years," said Faisal Al Nueimi, the deputy general manager of the organising Ajman Culture and Media Department. "Dates get mixed together in an area and new palm trees start producing a new kind of date."
In the first two days alone, 2,700 visitors attended the festival in what organisers described as "a great turnout".
"We're very happy with the number of visitors so far and we hope for an increase next year," Mr Nueimi said.
The second day of the festival welcomed 35 farmers into its competitions and extended the winners from three to 15.
"Our chairman, Abdel Aziz Al Nueimi, took that decision because he wants to encourage farmers to participate and not go back home unnoticed," said Mr Nueimi.
Farmers came from all over the country including Ras al Khaimah, Fujairah, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Liwa and Sharjah.
"It's crucial to have this festival here because in the Northern Emirates, not all people can go to Liwa," said Samira Al Nahal, one of the exhibitors. "We have a lot of traditional Emirati instruments in the north that are different to the south too so it's important for us to be able to show them off."
More varieties will also be included in next year's festival, confirmed Mr Nueimi.
"We have more of the Sheshi variety here because it grows more in the western emirates because of the humidity," he said. "But we will definitely introduce other categories."
Organisers said the competitions would also change in next year's event. Farmers from the same emirate will only compete against each other.
"The basis will be much wider in that sense, a farmer from Ras al Khaimah for instance will only be up against another farmer from Ras al Khaimah," Mr Nueimi said.
Next year, the event will last more than 10 days and part of it will take place during Ramadan.
"It's much better for gathering families after iftar," Mr Nueimi said. "And we are now teaching younger generations about dates as they are almost forgotten."
He added he expected more farmers from Dubai, Ajman and Sharjah to participate in next year's event.