Preparations are now underway for the launch of the 11th edition of the Liwa Date Festival, to be held from 22nd - 30th of July in Liwa city in Al Gharbia, The Western Region, in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi, the Festival is held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
In the 11 years since the launch of the first edition, the Festival has turned into a major event on the calendar of the annual tourist festivals in Al Gharbia region. Attracting about 70,000 tourists and visitors, including both nationals and residents, the Liwa Date Festival is an annual heritage event eagerly awaited by thousands of people from around the UAE. The various activities of the festival celebrate the heritage of the Emiratis, reviving their diverse traditions and unique way of life.
For the 2015 edition, the festival will feature several traditional heritage and art activities every day from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.. Prizes with a total value of more than Dh6 million will be awarded to winning participants in various competitions, including the Mazaynas, or beauty competitions, for the best dates, best lemons and best mangoes, as well as the Traditional Market, the Dar Fruits Basket Competition, the Best Heritage Model competition, the Model Farm Award, and the activities of the Children's Village. All the activities and competitions are held to celebrate the various customs and traditions of the country and preserve its intangible heritage, most notably the palm tree, which occupies an eminent position in authentic Emirati heritage and the collective memory of the Emirati society.
Director of the Liwa Date Festival, Obaid Khalfan Al Mazrouei, said, "The Festival aims to provide a unique opportunity for different generations to discover and learn about heritage and the traditions of their ancestors. The palm tree was, and will remain, a symbol of the history and culture of Arab society, in general, and Emirati society in particular. According to the United Nations, the UAE has succeeded, over the last decades, in planting about 130 million trees, including 22 million palm trees, which constitutes 20% of the total number of palm trees in the world."
Mazrouei hailed the distinguished support of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, noting that "His Highness has always respected and valued the keenness of the Emirati society to preserve its social and cultural heritage, and ensure its transmission to future generations."
The Liwa Date Festival has also a lot to offer to its young visitors who come with their parents to learn about the history of the palm tree and the authenticity of Emirati heritage. The many exceptional activities include cultural competitions and workshops to draw, paint and educate children about the benefits of this blessed tree.