The second edition of Traditional Handicrafts Festival in Al Ain's Souq Al Qattara, that ends on Saturday is a lively event that provides visitors the opportunity to learn about Emirati crafts and traditions.
Saeed Hamad Al Kaabi, TCA Abu Dhabi's Head of Traditional Handicrafts and Products expressed his delight at the success of this year's event which has seen a significant increase in the number of visitors.
The highlight of this year's edition has been the interest shown in handicrafts by schoolchildren. Many workshops have been organised to teach schoolchildren about Emirati crafts and traditions. Hundreds of children, from a number of schools, could be seen making their way round the various stalls.
"I'm here to know about the UAE, its past and our traditions” said 12-year old Mohammad Ali Shamsi. "I enjoyed the festival because it was fun and they (exhibitors) answered all my questions.”
Fourteen-year-old Nahyan Rashid Al Bloochi said, "I learnt a lot about my country's cultures and traditions.”
Whilst school trips and the pupils dominate the festival during the morning hours, late afternoons witness a diverse audience of expatriate and Emirati families examining the crafts and products before heading to the sitting area to enjoy traditional Emirati dancing and music.
French expatriate Isabelle Duquesene, who was visiting the festival with a friend from Abu Dhabi said, "It's my first time in Al Ain. I love culture and I think this is the best place to see it.”
Another first time visitor, 21-year old Sidrah Naeem from Pakistan praised the organisers for bringing the UAE cultural traditions to everyone. "I met a lot of people who taught me about the UAE and what they do, and their culture. I really enjoyed it.”
Walking through the souq gives spectators a sense of travelling back in time as Emirati craftswomen and men create merchandise that have a timeless appeal.
The craftspeople are friendly and eager to speak to visitors about what they do, eager to make people understand the traditions of the UAE.