x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Permanent site for cultural events

The Heritage Village at Al Ain is to become a permanent site for cultural festivals having proven to be a popular community gathering place.

SIR BANI YAS ISLAND // Al Ain's 500,000-square-metre Heritage Village, constructed in December for National Day, is now a permanent celebration site for cultural festivals and will host events for this Municipality Month. Matar al Nuaimi, the executive director of infrastructure and assets for Al Ain Municipality, has confirmed plans to "bring as many events as possible there because people like simplicity and they like heritage".

He said the Heritage Village had proved to be "a community gathering place". Mr al Nuaimi made the remarks in an interview at Sir Bani Yas Island, where he and other municipal executive directors gathered for a leadership workshop. "It pleased people and it created a reason for them to gather in a simple place and a happy place," he said, adding that weekly events could be hosted 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. "They 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," he said. "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. An outdoor majlis area, for instance, was exposed to strong winds and could be reinforced and stages can be set up for concerts and traditional dance performances. "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. "There are many visitors to Al Ain Municipality, we can take them there to have lunch or dinner. If I want to invite anybody, I can take them there and show them the Al Ain desert."

Mr al Nuaimi said there were no plans yet to establish the Heritage Village as a daily tourist centre, similar to the village run by the Emirates Heritage Club in Abu Dhabi, but he did not rule out the idea. "It's not going to be working 365 days, but maybe we will reach a time where it is going to be in operation for the full year. We don't know yet, but this is a successful idea."

mkwong@thenational.ae