x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Second annual camel festival aims to preserve UAE's rich cultural heritage

Thousands of pedigreed camels are to travel from across the Arabian Peninsula for the second Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival.

ABU DHABI // Thousands of pedigreed camels are to travel from across the Arabian Peninsula for the second Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival. The festival will be held from Dec 23 to Jan 4 in Madinat Zayed in Al Gharbia, under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, it was announced yesterday. Organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), the event is billed as the world's biggest camel festival.

"The event is in continuation with Adach's strategy to preserve the cultural heritage of Abu Dhabi and the whole of the Emirates, and to ensure that UAE forefathers' rich heritage reaches future generations," Mohammed Khalaf al Mazrouei, the director general of Adach, said in a written statement. "The new time for the start of the festival will be in December of every year, as the weather would be most suitable for such an event."

Camels including the light-coloured Asayal and the dark-skinned, muscular Majahim will compete in events aimed at celebrating the area's cultural heritage. In April, more than 15,000 camels participated in the first festival, held just outside Madinat Zayed, Al Gharbia's administrative centre. Camels from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE competed in beauty contests, in which judges looked at the size of the animals' heads, the quality of their whiskers, nose shape, length and posture of the neck, the shape of the hump, shininess of the coat and the length of the toe parting.

During the 12-day competition, 100 cars and more than Dh35 million (US$9.5m) in cash were awarded to the owners of the most beautiful camels. In addition, millions of dirhams and hundreds of camels exchanged hands, with prized animals sold for record amounts, including one for Dh15 million. The event will also feature a souq area selling traditional products. A date festival will run in parallel, organisers said.

zconstantine@thenational.ae