x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Heritage Village proves its worth as a 'happy place'

Al Ain's Heritage Village, constructed in December for National Day, is now a permanent celebration site.

SIR BANI YAS ISLAND // Al Ain's Heritage Village, constructed in December for National Day, is now a permanent celebration site for cultural festivals and will be the venue for Municipality Month events. Matar al Nuaimi, the executive director of infrastructure and assets for Al Ain Municipality, yesterday confirmed plans to "bring as many events as possible there because people like simplicity and heritage".

Speaking in an interview at Sir Bani Yas Island, where he and other municipal executive directors had assembled for a leadership workshop, he said the 500,000-square-metre Heritage Village had proved to be "a community gathering place". "It pleased people and it created a reason for them to gather in a simple place and a happy place." He added that weekly events could be held there. "That has a good impact on people."

The village has small avenues and dozens of thatched huts where people can demonstrate traditional weaving methods and sell their wares, such as snacks or scarves. "Visitors can see what our old people used to sell there, what the past generations used to do, national dancing is valuable there, traditional skills like ladies' embroidery and weaving. It's just to reflect what our people used to do in the old times."

Mr al Nuaimi said the municipality was considering expanding or improving some of the structures. "One of the changes that we thought about was to construct a rest area where you have this tent made of wood and the floor is sand," he said. "For the many visitors in Al Ain Municipality, we can take them there to have lunch or dinner. If I want to invite anybody, I can take him there and show him the Al Ain desert."

Although there were no plans to establish the Heritage Village as a daily tourist centre, similar to the village run by the Emirates Heritage Club in Abu Dhabi, Mr al Nuaimi said such a development could not be ruled out. "It's not going to be working 365 days, but maybe we will reach that at a certain time where it is going to be in operation for the full year. We don't know yet, but we can say this is one of our successful ideas." mkwong@thenational.ae