x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

New twist for the Liwa date festival

The festival will take place from July 12 to 21, followed by the inaugural Ajman-Liwa Date Festival from July 27 to 29.

This year's Liwa Date Festival will have a sour note to it - but that is all part of the plan.

When the festival opens in Al Gharbia next week, alongside the usual dozens of varieties of dates farmers will for the first time compete to have their lemons named as the emirate's best. Mangoes will also be part of the competition.

The festival will take place from July 12 to 21, followed by the inaugural Ajman-Liwa Date Festival from July 27 to 29.

The festival's director said the new fruits were a natural fit. "The mango and lemon seasons occur at the same time as the date season in the UAE," said Obeid Al Mazrouei. "Mangoes and lemons are very popular in the country and people have been using them for the past 20 years by bringing them from abroad and growing them here."

Each competition will have local and international categories.

"I think it's very good to have these additions to the festival because they are meaningful to the country and the people," said Mr Mazrouei. "There are so many mangoes and lemons in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, it's time to showcase them in the festival."

He expects more than 75,000 visitors to attend the festival, which is organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.

Although 50 date exhibitors are expected at the event, the number of competitors for mangoes and lemons has yet to be determined.

The festival's date categories will include Al Khalas, Al Dabbas, Boumaan, Khanezi, Al Fard and Al Nukhbah. There will be half-ripe and fully ripened dates, all competing for a total prize pot of Dh4million.

The festival will also feature a market with 160 shops, where Emirati women will display their wares and take part in a handicrafts competition. And there will be an exhibition of traditional Emirati tents made from palm trees and a cooking competition involving dates.

Last year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, donated 35,000 palm seedlings to farmers at the festival.

cmalek@thenational.ae