x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Make a date with the Emirates palm festival

Popular festival scheduled for November 21 to 26.

ABU DHABI // Date palm climbing and international date tasting are among the new activities at this year's Emirates Date Palm Festival in Abu Dhabi.

The festival, organised by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), will be held from November 21 to 26 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, together with the Salon International de l'Agroalimentaire (International Food Industry Exibition).

Mohamed Jalal al Reyaysa, the chairman of the festival organising committee, said it would combine "fun, business and culture".

He said: "An exhibition of this size for dates is a celebration of our heritage, culture and identity." Local and international chefs will prepare dishes with dates in the new Date Kitchen section.

Visitors will be able to taste dates from around the world and learn about them in the Tasting Date Oasis section.

A competition will also present photographers and their date palm-centric photos. The winner will be announced at the end of the festival.

A series of date-themed plays and poetry recitals by schools and university students are planned, as well as a children's zone including face painting and pottery.

Children will be able to learn about how palms are cultured by planting their own tree. Each sapling will be named after its owner and presented to Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, at the end of the festival. They will then be planted in Abu Dhabi.

A heritage village will also host numerous cultural activities to teach visitors about the traditional Emirati lifestyle and a palm museum will showcase date-palm handicrafts from Emirati and Gulf museums.

"We want men, women and children to go back with fond memories and solid awareness about the central significance of dates in the life of our people," said Mr Reyaysa.

This year's festival is expected to host 200 exhibitors, twice as many as last year, from 17 countries including Jordan, Iraq, Oman, Morocco and Iran. Organisers expect about 17,000 visitors from around the Gulf.