x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Middle Eastern verses extol the vehicles of desert tradition

Inspired by the power, speed, character and beauty of the camel, more than 400 poets have penned works for the Al Dhafra Festival poetry competition.

An owner calms one of his camels at the Al Dhafra Camel Festival 2009.
An owner calms one of his camels at the Al Dhafra Camel Festival 2009.

ABU DHABI // Inspired by the power, speed, character and beauty of the camel, more than 400 poets have penned works for the Al Dhafra Festival poetry competition. A panel of judges has until Thursday to choose a winner from the poets, who come from 11 Arab countries, after Friday's deadline for entries. The winner will publicly recite their Nabati poem on Thursday, the last day of the festival, and on the Million's Poet television programme. Nabati is the traditional poetry of the Bedouin.

Sultan al Amimi, the director the competition, said he had been impressed by the high standard of the entries. "They were a very good quality and very interesting, from across the Gulf and outside the Gulf as well," Mr al Amimi said. "The poems are on different ideas on camels and the qualities of the different types, such as the shape of their body, how fast they are and their importance in our history."

Poets from the UAE and Saudi Arabia sent the most entries, followed by Qatar and Kuwait, Mr al Amimi said. The committee also received entries from poets from countries including Iraq, Yemen and Egypt. More than 24,000 camels and 2,000 people are taking part in the second Al Dhafra Festival, the highlight of which is the camel beauty contest. There is more than Dh40 million (US$10.9m) in cash and prizes available over the 10-day competition, which is organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach).

Salem al Mazrouei, Adach's director of operations and logistics, said thousands of people went to the festival, just outside Madinat Zayed in Al Gharbia, over the weekend, including many foreigners. "We are really happy with the way the contest is going and more and more people are getting out to see it," Mr al Mazrouei said. The poetry competition was being held for the first time at the festival, along with photography contests, traditional crafts and a date-packing competition, open only to Emirati farmers, which has received 300 entries.

The local crafts are on display at a specially built souq, which has more 150 stalls. More than 900 people have entered the handicraft competition. zconstantine@thenational.ae