x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Festival good for the young who do not know our heritage, say Emirati visitors

Emirati families across the country have come together to celebrate their history, culture and traditions at the Qasr Al Hosn Festival.

Visitors to the Qasr Al Hosn Festival take a stroll through Abu Dhabi’s rich past. The festival, celebrating the fort’s 250th anniversary, ends today. Sammy Dallal / The National
Visitors to the Qasr Al Hosn Festival take a stroll through Abu Dhabi’s rich past. The festival, celebrating the fort’s 250th anniversary, ends today. Sammy Dallal / The National

ABU DHABI // Little Sultan Al Tunaiji sat in his father's arms, dressed in his traditional kandura, and watched as his cousin performed the hair dance with other young girls.

Sultan, 1, had come to the Qasr Al Hosn Festival with his father Ahmed and mother Mahra, both from Ras Al Khaimah.

"My son is wearing our national dress," said Mahra, 32.

"He is too young to understand the festival but when he's all grown up and sees the photos, he'll remember we took him to his first festival at Qasr Al Hosn."

The Al Tunaijis were one of hundreds of Emirati families from across the country who have come together to celebrate their history, culture and traditions at the festival, which ends today.

The event, which marks the building's 250 years, has given Emirati visitors a tour through Abu Dhabi's history, a past some had only experienced through the tales of elders.

"The youth do not know our heritage and it's good that we are having this festival," said Ahmed, 33, who works for an oil and gas company in Abu Dhabi.

He proudly held Sultan as they watched dozens of Emirati men in traditional ayyala and yolla dances.

Mahra was busy taking photos of her son and of her niece dancing.

Although she is also from RAK, her grandfathers told her about Qasr Al Hosn and its historical and cultural significance.

"We need to learn about our past to appreciate what we have now," she said.

"Our sheikhs are supportive and we are getting many benefits from our Government. The UAE is a safe country to live in."

Adeega Al Qubaisi, 39, from Abu Dhabi, came with her children Reem, 9, Abdullah, 8, and Ayesha, 7, to show them their country's culture and traditions.

The sandy compound features live performances, traditional handicraft-making, souqs and food stalls.

Other highlights include dhow-building, camel rides, and demonstrations of date preparation, basket weaving and rope making.

Reem said the festival had kept Sheikh Zayed's memory alive.

"I think of Sheikh Zayed, and we're all proud of Qasr Al Hosn and the UAE," she said.

Asma Al Shamsi, 30, an Emirati housewife in Dubai, said it was her first time visiting the area.

Asma watched the celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of Qasr Al Hosn on television last week and decided to travel to Abu Dhabi.

"I really feel so proud to be Emirati," she said. "It's nice that we've kept this fort."

She came with her children Mariam, 6, Hamad, 4, and Fatima, 8 months, and some close relatives.

"My family loves it here," Asma said. "We miss these activities and we want more of these."

"We have a rich heritage and we're so proud of it.

"The pearl divers, fishermen and those who spent their lives in the desert led simpler but happier lives."

rruiz@thenational.ae