ABU DHABI // More than 30,000 adults and children have attended the Summer in Abu Dhabi festival in its first 10 days. The figure has delighted officials at the host venue, the National Exhibition Centre. "That's just spot on target," said Paul Vincent, the marketing director of ADNEC. "Actually, it's a little bit above our expectations." Organisers had set a target of 150,000 people over the eight weeks of the festival, he said. "Right now we are getting a good attendance on weekdays and very good on the weekends."
Parents who will not be leaving the emirate for their holidays have welcomed the festival as a long-awaited opportunity to provide activities for children away from the beaches and shopping malls. Of the 30,870 visitors, about 15 per cent were returning for a second time, Mr Vincent said. "We targeted children between the ages of six and 16 and that's about what we're getting. The average age is about 11," he said.
Summer in Abu Dhabi, which opened on June 26, will run until August 18. The festival features seven themed islands; Discovery, Imagination, Adventure, Fun, Creativity, Action and Heritage and Culture. The islands offer a mixture of rides, crafts, sports and educational exhibits. Children can be entertained by a storytelling tree, a glow-in-the-dark puppet theatre and acrobats. There are also stalls dedicated to teaching everything from the art of spying to the science behind optical illusions. One of the exhibits features robotic animals designed to explain the bodily mechanics of the creatures they represent.
Some parents have asked ADNEC to expand Summer in Abu Dhabi next year to include more activities for teenagers. Mr Vincent said the most popular attraction had been Builder's City, where children can play with blocks and learn about construction techniques. "It's been enormously popular," he said, adding that plans to expand the exhibit were being discussed. "The whole of the UAE is under development or being constructed and so I think that the children are focused on that."
The festival is open between 12pm and 9pm every day. Tickets cost Dh30 for an adult and Dh20 for a child. Parking is available at Sheikh Zayed Sports City and a free shuttle bus is available. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org