Only three weeks to Al Dhafra Festival 2014

ABU DHABI - The Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee – Abu Dhabi organises, from the 20th of December to the 1st of January, 2015, the 8th edition of Al Dhafra Festival in Madinat Zayed, in Al Gharbia (The Western Region). The Festival is expected to draw a large turnout as its timing falls within the school and university holidays, in a way that matches the agenda of the annual events of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the Western Region.

At the end of last week, the Higher Organising Committee of Al Dhafra Festival held a meeting at Al Raha Beach Theatre in Abu Dhabi to discuss the latest preparations for the launch of the 8th edition of the Festival.

Featuring more than 15 outstanding competitions and rich heritage activities, Al Dhafra Festival offers prizes with a total value of more than AED 55 million ($15 million), including 225 cars. The number of laps at the Camel Mazayna Competition (Camel Beauty Contest) will reach 72 for both Asayel (locals) and Majahim (dark-skinned) camels. The other competitions and activities are: the Mahaleb Competition, the Heritage Camel Race, the Arab Heritage Saluki Race, the Falcon Hunting Competition (falcons bred in captivity), the Purebred Arabian Horse Race, the Dates’ Mazayna, the Dates’ Packaging Competition, the Photography Competition, the Handicrafts Competition, the Classic Cars Competition, the Camel Auction, the Traditional Market and the Children’s Village.

By the end of the last edition of Al Dhafra Festival in 2013, the Organising Committee decided to add two open laps for Sheikhs and whoever wishes to take part from the tribes to pick the ten most beautiful camels (local Asayel + Majahim). This decision to add new laps to the Camel Mazayna came as part of the encouraging developments for both participants and members of the public. It spelled more excitement and enthusiasm upon this international and regional event that has been witnessing a large turnout of thousands of camel owners in the region. It should be noted that the number of Mazayna laps reached 70 in the 6th edition in 2012, after it was only 56 laps in the 2011 edition and 42 laps in the 4th edition in 2010.

The new laps come to serve the objectives of the Festival in protecting purebred camels, promoting the Bedouin culture, and stimulating the sector of heritage tourism. Such a development also helps in the encouragement of camel owners and the attraction of more participants, in view of the high position that the Festival has gained within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. The new laps offer a chance to enlarge participation so as to include other countries, and hence, raise the bar of competition to add more excitement and enthusiasm. From one year to another, the preparations for the Festival have made further progress, with the contribution of more experts and the enhancement of competition norms and standards.

The meeting discussed all the organisational, administrative, financial, logistical, and media affairs, required to ensure the achievement of the Festival’s objectives and mission. The attendees discussed the coordination with all the concerned parties to ensure the complementarity of roles and the economy of efforts and costs. They also reviewed the conditions for participation in the various competitions and the evaluation mechanisms at the Festival.

The Higher Organising Committee meeting was attended by Mr. Abdullah Butti Al Qubaisi, Director of Projects Management at the Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee, Mr. Mohammed bin Adhed Al Muhairi, the Director of the Camel Mazayna, Mr. Obaid Khalfan Al Mazrouei, Director of Al Dhafra Festival's Heritage Competitions, Mr. Khamis Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Director of Logistical Support, and the representatives of the different parties supporting the Festival: Department of Municipal Affairs - Western Region Municipality, General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police, and the Western Region Police Directorate.

“The Organising Committee remains determined to develop the activities of Al Dhafra Festival as it works to provide all what is required to ensure the success of the event. The objective consists in facilitating all the procedures for participants in the various competitions and activities. We remain determined to greet our tourists and visitors with the best services as we hope to promote the local culture and heritage,” Mr. Abdullah Butti Al Qubaisi said.

“Since the launch of the first edition in 2008, the Festival has witnessed a huge and an unparalleled success. Over a relatively short period of time, it has managed to turn into an international and regional event. It is inspired, in its form and content, by the authentic Bedouin spirit which still characterises the Arab citizen up to this day. The launch of Al Dhafra festival was the fruit of sincere efforts that aimed at creating an event dedicated to the protection of environmental and historical heritage, and the reinforcement of the bond between the past and the present of the Emirati citizens,” he added.

Qubaisi noted that “Al Dhafra Festival has turned into a special occasion and an annual gathering for the GCC peoples. It aspires to preserve the cultural heritage of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and the UAE, in general, as it seeks to safeguard the Emirati popular heritage. The Festival also hopes to stimulate the economic activity in Al Gharbia, and promote the Gate of the Empty Quarter (Madinat Zayed) among the lovers of heritage tourism from around the world.”

“The organisational, promotional and media efforts must keep pace with the significance of the event and the strategy for the preservation of the cultural heritage of Abu Dhabi. Al Dhafra Festival has successfully turned into an international and regional event that has been attracting the attention of news agencies, newspapers, and international TV channels. News about the Festival’s competitions and activities have been relayed by various media outlets, which have voiced their appreciation and admiration for Al Dhafra role in implementing the plans of cultural heritage preservation and safeguarding the region’s authentic customs and traditions,” he said.

A number of media reports have shed light on the breathtaking scenery at the Western Region. With a fascinating desert, picturesque landscapes, and beautiful beaches, Al Gharbia has lured many visitors, and made them rush back again and again. Media reports have also provided a thorough description of the enchanting Gate of the Empty Quarter, which attracts, each year, tens of thousands of visitors and tourists who come to follow the Festival activities. In the Western Region, visitors and tourists can travel around the desert and explore the different sites while enjoying the authenticity of Emirati customs and traditions.