The Qasr Al Hosn Festival, which begins tomorrow will mark 250 years of Emirati history and culture through world-class acts, historical exhibitions, an interactive zone and a series of educational talks.
Set to take place from February 28 to March 9 and then become an annual event, it also includes the specially designed show Story of a Fort, Legacy of a Nation by Italian-Belgian director Franco Dragone, according to a report published by The National daily.
As the birthplace of the capital, Qasr Al Hosn has played a fundamental role in Abu Dhabi's past while safeguarding its future, says Faisal Al Sheikh, the festival director and events manager at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture -Authority.
"Qasr Al Hosn is of immense historical and cultural importance. Standing for more than two and a half centuries, the fort is the symbolic birthplace of Abu Dhabi," says Al Sheikh. "This festival is an opportunity for the entire community to come together and celebrate Emirati history, culture and tradition.
"The fort was once a ?gate of glory'. Celebrating the UAE's history through this great festival will take us back to our roots and reminds us of our artistic and intellectual legacy." To help retell some of Abu Dhabi's most fascinating stories, the organisers commissioned Franco Dragone to create a memorable experience.
The result is Story of a Fort, Legacy of a Nation, which aims to bring the history of the Emirati -people to life, blending music, performances and spectacular special effects.
Story of a Fort, Legacy of a Nation will be staged in a 5,600-square-metre tent that rivals the Circus Phoenix in Paris, which is said to be the biggest in the world. More than 70 performers from 25 countries will participate in the production, which runs for 75 minutes. The cast, which includes professional dancers, acrobats and gymnasts, will be joined by a select group of -Emirati -performers.
"During these 75 minutes, you will learn the deep history, hidden secrets and stories behind the fort," says Al Sheikh.
Visitors are encouraged to "walk through Abu Dhabi's history" while experiencing four key themes: the Sea Corner, the Desert, the Oasis and Abu Dhabi Island. An exhibition, which includes a collection of videos and a selection of cultural -artefacts, sheds light on the fort's historical significance as well as the leadership's role in emphasising sovereignty and influence within the region.
Muntada Qasr Al Hosn, a three-day forum that will be hosted by the Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, will be offered in both English and Arabic. Presented by a panel of experts, the topics include the issues surrounding the fort, the nation and its people, and how the UAE's history will shape its future.
The story of the citadel is said to have begun around 1760, when the leader of the Bani Yas tribes, Sheikh Dhiyab bin Isa, built a watchtower to guard their water source. The tower was later turned into a fort by his son Sheikh Shakhbut bin Dhiyab. When Abu Dhabi rose in status, and also because of political shifts, Sheikh Shakhbut moved his residence from Liwa Oasis to Qasr Al Hosn.
A traditional souq with 60 stalls has been set up around the fort and visitors will be able to see artisans practising traditional Emirati crafts or try a hand at applying henna, palm weaving and telly - a traditional Arabian Gulf style of macram?.
"The Qasr Al Hosn Festival offers an entirely new way for many proud sons and daughters to engage with Abu Dhabi's rich cultural past," said Faisal Al Sheikh.