As Abu Dhabi celebrates its roots this month at Qasr Al Hosn, the festival inspires many Emiratis to cast their minds back to a bygone era.
It was this love of history that was the driving force behind the UAE's first national heritage-themed television show, Games from the Past – itself now history.
It was the brainchild of late Arab TV presenter, Fawzi Al Khamis, and lasted for three seasons during Ramadan 1994, 1995 and 1996.
The first-of-its kind show had viewers enthralled, but no more so than in 1994, when the father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, made an impromptu appearance.
He commended the programme and it was there that he delivered one of his most famous quotes: "He who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present nor future.”
The visit, during a broadcast at the National Exhibition Centre, had a profound effect on the TV programme, catapulting it into the spotlight.
Abla Al Nuwais, the former media adviser to the office of the President, said: "The heritage of the UAE was of paramount importance to him. He attended the show three times and was pleased with its success. Traditional dancing was part of every function. It was the norm at the time and who can forget that speech? Heritage was alive because of him and continues today”.
Emirati historian Jamal bin Huwaireb commented on Sheikh Zayed's devotion to history.
"It's our story and no-one knew the significance of this more than our wise founding father,” he said.
"Rootless people live rootless lives. We understand others by studying their past. The same goes for us. People understand our culture when they look at our past.”
Maryam Al Yabouni, 67, remembers watching Games from the Past with her family.
"I don't think my children were ever interested in our olden days until the show came out. I'm not sure if it was the format or the prizes but everyone was watching,” she said.
Youngsters probed sources for a chance to win one of the prizes. Answering a proverbial poetic riddle could win you as much as Dh100,000 in cash.
Salem Al Mehairi, 32, a government employee, said: "I was around 10 when the show came out. Its phone was always busy but I couldn't believe my luck one day when my call went through. The presenter asked me a pearl diving question, which my grandfather helped me answer. I was jubilant to have won Dh5,000 that day.”
In 1996, Games from the Past evolved into an equally successful live show called Games from the Heritage of the UAE, presented by Abu Dhabi television icon Eissa Almail.
Source: The National