Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 July 2020

No visitors at this year's Liwa Date Festival in Abu Dhabi

Farmers and participants to be tested for Covid-19 prior to entry

An annual local heritage festival in Abu Dhabi will go ahead next month, but no visitors will be allowed to attend because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Liwa Date Festival, in its 16th year, will run from Friday, July 17, to Thursday, July 23, with prizes worth more than Dh8 million up for grabs.

To participate, farmers and staff must be tested for Covid-19.

Temperature checks will be carried out on entry, masks and gloves will be mandatory and organisers will ensure the area is frequently disinfected. Hand sanitiser will also be provided to all participants and physical distancing will be enforced.

Activities will be limited to avoid gatherings, but the popular Date Beauty Contest will be held as usual.

Organisers said four new awards would be introduced this year to up the stakes for farmers eager to show off their produce.

Each year, thousands of farmers compete in contests including the heaviest date branch and best fruit baskets.

More than 60,000 dates in six varieties are typically submitted for scrutiny by a panel of judges.

The festival also holds competitions for the best mangoes and lemons.

Previously, hundreds of thousands of visitors would descend on Liwa, in Al Dhafra, an area of Abu Dhabi which borders Saudi Arabia, to take part in the cultural experience. Seminars and workshops were also previously held to teach visitors about the UAE's heritage.

The festival is seen as Liwa's social event of year with winners becoming renowned among Emiratis who live in the region.

Under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, the annual event seeks to promote the cultivation of the finest varieties of dates and give companies and farmers a platform to share healthy, sustainable agricultural methods for producing high quality dates.

The festival is held in July to correspond with the annual date harvest.

Updated: June 30, 2020 04:55 PM

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