The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) is organizing the 5th session of the Dhafra Festival in Madinat Zayed, in Al Gharbia (the Western Region) in Abu Dhabi Emirate in December 2011.
The festival involves several heritage activities, at the forefront of which are the camel beauty contest, the Al-Hallab contest, the date packaging contest, the Nabati poetry contest, the photography contest, and the cooking contest. These contests are provided in addition to multiple heritage events dedicated to children and school students. There will also be a market for traditional Emirati industries which will include more than 180 specialist shops for female Emirati citizens.
Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of ADACH, has issued a decision to restructure the Higher Permanent Committee for the Dhafra Festival in Al Gharbia in order to appoint His Excellency Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei as chair, His Excellency Abdallah Mubarak Al Muhairi as deputy chair, His Excellency Nasir Al Awadi Al Minhaali as a member, His Excellency Misbah Mubarak Al Murr as a member, His Excellency Saeed Bin Mohammed Al Mansouri as a member and Mr Paul Warren as a member.
The Chairman of the Higher Committee, Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Advisor for Culture and Heritage at the Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Director-General of ADACH, has underlined that the Dhafra Festival has over a short time, developed into a regional and international heritage event.
"The Festival has succeeded in applying the strategy of protecting and reviving the cultural heritage of Abu Dhabi Emirate with its different aspects, and was influential in introducing Bedouin culture and establishing the name of Dhafra, amongst the tourists located within Al Gharbia," Mazrouei said.
He considered that the Festival represented an essential pillar in the strategy for protecting the heritage of the region. The area currently enjoys a high-level national interest among tourists and can be seen to embody the ambition of the leadership with regard to making Al Gharbia a cultural tourist destination, at the international level, whilst activating and encouraging economic activity in the region.
Mazrouei extended deep thanks and appreciation to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, may God protect him, for his limitless support for the heritage protection projects and his encouragement to continue to strengthen the culture of the heritage festivals.
He also extended great thanks for the limitless support offered to the Dhafra Festival by His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces for the significant attention he pays to the efforts to protect the ancient heritage and to preserve the original traditions therein. This is felt to be one of the most important factors in the preservation of our national identity and the retention of cultural and social developments. This is further considered to be important as it was one of the key pillars of the approach adopted by the late father Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God bless his soul.
Mazrouei expressed his appreciation to Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Representative of the Ruler in Al Gharbia, and his willingness to be permanently present at the Festival and in particular at the traditional market, which embodies the history of the Emirati traditions and handicrafts.
The Dhafra Festival has developed - since its first session in 2008 - into a regional and international event that has attracted the attention of the media. Coverage of this Festival has demonstrated an admiration of the role of the festival as part of the Abu Dhabi strategy implemented for the protection of its heritage.
The Festival was influential in raising awareness amongst the international press with regard the great role performed by ADACH in cementing the link between the past and the present through the processes of interrelation, interaction and dialogue with different cultures and civilizations whilst at the same time protecting the ancient heritage of the UAE.
Reflecting upon the competitions, it is important to recognise that about 20,000 camels took part in the last camel beauty contest in December 2010. In that contest, about 800 of the camel owners in the region competed for the Festival prizes which totalled 35 million UAE Dirhams. The top round of the contest was the Bayrak (flag) round for Assayel (pure-bred) camels and Majahim (dark-skin), in which each competitor must participate with 50 camels. The first prize value comes to 1 million Dirhams.
The Dhafra Festival Director Salem Al Mazrouei, revealed that many of the changes and surprises introduced by the Festival, are scheduled to take place during the next presentation of the festival in December 2011. These changes will include the increase of the rounds of the Dhafra beauty contest, this is due to the expectation that more competitors will be attracted in the next round, given the high position the Festival now occupies in the GCC countries.
The structure of the contest will include: individual rounds of Assayeel and Majahim for sheikhs and tribes (20 rounds), individual rounds for Talad (Hayel, Thanaya, Jathaa, Laqaya, Haqayiq and Mafareed categories) for Assayel and Majahim (24 rounds), 3 rounds for Talad (participation with 25 camels). Dhafra Festival rounds will be added, as every competitor will be allowed to participate with six of Mifrada, Haqa, Liqya, Jathaa, Thanya, and Hayel categories. In addition, the positions available for Al Bayrak (the flag) will increase from four to ten for Assayel and Majahim (participation with 50 camels beginning from four years upwards).
Enclosed with the news report: Pictures of the activities of the 4th session.
Information to be given to the press about the beauty contest:
The judges in the beauty contest are experts in this field and originate from the Arabian Gulf region. The criteria cover all body parts and the overall score is 100 points:
Up to 25 points to head and neck details (whiskers, nose shape, head size, ears straightness, neck length and height).
Up to 20 points to the upper part (the length of the withers, their height, the hump shape and its location, and back length).
Up to 15 points for the front part (the width of the upper part of the chest, length between neck and chest and hoof size).
Up to 10 points to the rear part (the size of the rear part of the back, width between legs).
Up to 30 points to the overall look and gracefulness including (body width beauty, length, back breadth, along with body health and hair brightness).
The Dhafra camel beauty contest is divided into two main categories of camels: Assayel and Majahim.
Each category has general conditions for participation, cited in detail as part of a special guide for participants. The main terms being the payment of the subscription fees, the condition that the participating camels have no any kind of hybridization, deformities, or infectious diseases and the commitment, by participants, to adhere to the schedule of rounds.
Assayel: As cited in the noble Hadith, they are "the red beauties". They were called the reddish camels and they were mentioned in history when Antara Ibn Shadad, he famous Arab poet and hero, who travelled to the south-west of the Arabian Peninsula to buy these camels for his beloved Ablla. The roots of these camels belong to the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Majahim: Their roots belong to Najd and their colour is dark, with varying degrees of blackness.
Camel ages, names, and colours:
Hawar: A camel from the birth to the age of 1 year. The plural is Hiran and it is called Maqhur.
Mafroud: When a camel reaches one full year and is taken away of its mother, and is weaned. The plural is Mafareed and the female is called Mafrouda
Haq: When a camel reaches full two years, and it is called Walad Alyun and the female one is called Haqa
Luqy: When a camel reaches full three years, and it is called Luqy because the male is capable of impregnation and the female can be impregnated by the male.
Jathaa: When a camel reaches full four years, the female is called Jathaa
Thanei: When a camel reaches full five years and the reason for the naming is that at this age, the female called Thanya
Rubaa: When a camel reaches full six years, and it is called Hayel
Sudais: Is the name awarded from seven years upwards.
The ages of the female camels have been calculated by some in line with the number of their births this is undertaken when it is not possible to determine the precise time of its birth:
• Bikra and it is the camel which gives birth one time.
• Than or Umm and it is the camel which gives birth for the second time and so is the case with Umm (mother) for third or fourth
The camel reaching the fourth year is called Jathaa
Some of the camels’ names:
• The little female camel is called bikra, and little male called Quood.
• Fahl is the camel’s name after the age of Jadha.
• Naqa: is the name of the female camel when it is fertilised.
• Harsh: is the name of the male camel when it grows older, while Naqa is called Fater.
• During the beginning of her fertilization, Naqa is called “Moashar” (plural “Oshar”). She is known for raising her tail when introduced to Fahl.
• She is called Naqa after six months, and shows signs of fertilization through the size of her belly.
• Naqa is called “Moqarrab” when she is said to be approaching her delivery date.
• After the birth, she is called “Dhaffa” (plural “Dhaffat”).
• After six months from delivery and when the summer comes - because camels are often born between autumn and the end of spring – Naqa is called “A’ashar” (plural “Oshar”).
• A Naqa who has not been fertilized is called “Hayel” (plural “Heel”).
• A Naqa is called “Masaad” if she has a miscarriage, or her pregnancy fails before completion.