Al Dhafra Festival: education and fun for tourists

Michael's passion for camels brought him to Al Dhafra Festival

In a festive atmosphere full of poetry and songs about the camels amongst the crowd in the arena who are celebrating the winners in Mazaynah (camel beauty) contests, foreign tourists can be seen embracing local culture and heritage as they marvel at the beauty of the camels.
Vanda, a British resident in Abu Dhabi came with her husband to watch the camel beauty contest and visit other activities of Al Dhafra Festival in Madinat Zayed.
“My husband and I have been coming to the Festival for years,” said Vanda who is a housewife.
“We are here for three days and will be camping outside the venue to enjoy this exhilarating experience,” she said while her husband was busy taking pictures of the winning camels.
“We have learnt about the different types of camels thanks to the guide who has been accompanying us during our visit to the Festival,” she added.
Dozens of guides have been mobilised to meet the demands of foreign tourists during the Festival.
“The visit is quite educational because the guide gave us interesting details about the different types of camels,” she said.
Nine competitions are being held every day: five Asayel and four Majahim contests. The top ten camels are awarded in every lap with the winner receiving a brand new Nissan Station SA worth almost AED300,000. The runner-up receives a new Chevrolet Tahoe, while the third receives a Nissan pickup.
“It’s just amazing in here. We love the UAE culture and we embrace everything,” enthused Vanda.
Vanda is quite active in Abu Dhabi as she does some charity work with her friend who runs a network called “Feeling Great Helping” which supports good causes in the UAE. Love of camels
Micheal, a retired German journalist is in al Dhafra Festival for the camels.
“I love camels. That’s why I’m here with my wife in the Festival, It’s real fun,” said Micheal as he was taking pictures of the Majahim (dark brown camels) he has never seen before.
Micheal has been to many camel races in some Arab countries such as Sudan and Egypt, but this is his first time in Al Dhafra after he read some news online about the Festival.
The tall German told me about his passion for camels and the races he attended in Sudan and Egypt. However he could not attend a camel race in Sinai, citing security fears in Egypt.
Michael, who is staying at Tilal Liwa Hotel which is close to the venue, praised the hospitality and organising of the Festival.
“This is the best organised camel event I have ever witnessed,” he said, adding that he would visit all the activities, including Falconry and the Traditional Market.
Al Dhafra Festival, which is organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA- Abu Dhabi), is held in Madinat Zayed , Abu Dhabi from December 14 to 28.