Visitors to the First National Traditional Handicrafts Festival running in Al Ain from 23rd to 29th October, will be treated to a series of live traditional competitions and displays aimed at enlivening generations-old handicrafts.
Organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA Abu Dhabi, the festival is set to shed light on the importance of traditional handicrafts and industries to Emirati heritage, and strengthen national identity through local crafters efforts to revive, preserve and teach these crafts to future generations.
Dr. Nasser Al Humairi, Director of TCA Abu Dhabi’s Intangible Heritage Department, said, "The festival is an opportunity for craftspeople to meet and demonstrate their handicrafts skills, while heightening the importance of the preservation of these skills to Emirati society." "We have an ambitious strategy to keep heritage and traditional handicrafts alive for future generations, and in creating a national celebration, this festival allows us to connect the preservation of our heritage, with a symbolic and deep-rooted sense of belonging to the country," he added.
A series of displays and competitive demonstrations promoting the preservation of skills are a central component of the festival according to Saeed Hamad Al Kaabi, Head of Traditional Handicrafts and Products.
"Our ancestors developed a number of handicrafts and industries to meet their daily needs, and these pieces were considered creative works of art with an aesthetic element. However, skills have receded under the pressure of highly advanced, modern industries and we hope by creating a competitive element, contestants will be motivated to develop innovate ways to further our preservation goals," he explained.
The competitions include craftsmanship, Al Yola dance, making Arabic coffee and preparing traditional dishes.
The handicrafts competition includes three categories, palm frond items, Al Sadu weaving and liberal professions. Participants have to be over 15 years old and must present works incorporating materials from the local environment. Entries in the liberal professions category must add a modern touch while preserving traditional identity at the same time.