x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Abu Dhabi’s storytelling tradition kept alive along the Corniche

The Story Mile: A Journey Through Emirati Oral Traditions reveals tales of historical figures and events in a series of lightboxes along the seafront footpath.

The Story Mile, a selection of Emirati tales and traditional characters, on display along the Corniche. The tales are legends and myths handed down from generation to generation. Delores Johnson / The National
The Story Mile, a selection of Emirati tales and traditional characters, on display along the Corniche. The tales are legends and myths handed down from generation to generation. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi’s storytelling tradition is being kept alive along a stretch of its Corniche.

The Story Mile: A Journey Through Emirati Oral Traditions reveals tales of historical figures and events in a series of lightboxes along the seafront footpath.

The exhibition was designed by a team of students from Zayed University as part of the 10th Abu Dhabi Festival.

“The emirate is booming and people are making more money, so the city is moving away from its heritage and folklore,” said master storyteller, Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, who leads the Zayed University Kharareef (Storyteller) Club.

“By establishing this kind of project with the students, it brings them back to their roots.”

Some of the 40 stories on display have been passed along through the generations, while others have been adapted or combined into unique stories by the students.

Some are lighthearted, some are about love or betrayal, and some are intended to teach the reader a moral lesson.

“Last year’s Abu Dhabi Festival focused a lot on storytelling, but this year we have also brought in story creating, so I think that it’s an improved project,” said Mr Al Musallam.

Brian De Gracia, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for two years, took a break from his daily run to admire some of the students’ work.

“It’s really good to know that here in the UAE they have stories like this, because I thought it was only countries like mine, the Philippines, that had these kinds of stories,” he said. “I was supposed to go and run more now, but I feel I have to read some of these, it is inspiring.”

The Story Mile is free for all ages and will run until March 29.

The Kharareef Club is also preparing to mark world storytelling day on March 20 with an all-day event at Abu Dhabi Heritage Village.

ksinclair@thenational.ae