Al Dhafra Festival 2012 draws to a close

Boosting Emirati culture

Madinat Zayed, ABU DHABI - After 15 days of festivities, heritage celebrations, exciting events, and tough competitions, Al Dhafra Festival held in Al Gharbia (The Western Region) draws to a close.
Organized by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA, Abu Dhabi) and held under the directions of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE (may God protect him), and under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the 6th edition witnessed a large turnout, and drew the attention of the local, Arab and international media.
The success of Al Dhafra Festival 2012 adds to the achievements of the previous editions, and raises the event's good reputation higher on regional and international levels. The winners of the various competitions were many. So were the valuable prizes. Yet, the only true winners were the Emirati heritage, traditions, and Bedouin culture.
As confirmed by many participants, visitors, and media representatives, the 6th edition excelled on the level of organization, participation and quality of the new competitions introduced. The credit goes of course to the UAE leadership for its constant support, the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, the Higher Organizing Committee of the Festival, and the various partners and sponsors of the event.
Once again Al Dhafra Festival has succeeded in promoting the Emirati culture, stimulating the economy in the Western Region, dazzling the lovers of the desert and Bedouin life, and giving a boost to the promising tourism sector.
What were small steps taken in the past are turning today into giant leaps. Year after year, the Festival is gaining more renown and recognition. The rise in the number of participants from all over the Gulf region, the large turnout, and the growing media coverage were but some proofs of the Festival's rise as a significant event on the world's cultural agenda.
The parade of the camels, falcons, and Saluki may be over for now, yet the passion and love the Emirati people have for their heritage and traditions will ever live to be celebrated on future editions, and occasions. Large turnout of participants and visitors surpasses all expectations
The events of the 6th edition of Al Dhafra Festival witnessed an unprecedented turnout of camel owners from the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), notably Jordan and Yemen. More than 1,500 camel owners and above 25,000 camels were present on the grounds of the Festival to take part in the various competitions.
The official site of the Festival hosted a high number of camps, the owners of which came to make their contribution strongly felt. The platform of the Camel Mazayna had been packed with participants and visitors who flocked to the Traditional Market and attended the heritage competitions organized on the sidelines of the Festival.
As a result of the keenness of the Higher Organizing Committee of the Festival to complete the necessary arrangements and provide all the needed equipments, the 6th edition turned into a new success that builds on previous achievements. This year, the Committee sought to expand and add to the events of the Festival through the organization of a series of heritage activities, notably the Camel Mazayna Competition, the Mahaleb Competition, the Camel Auction, the Heritage Camel Race, the Arab Saluki Heritage Race, and many other competitions. All these events, that perfectly stand for the genuine sense of Bedouin spirit and cultural heritage, contributed to the attraction of large numbers of tourists and visitors.

A festive end

Salem Ibrahim Al Mazrouei, Director of Al Dhafra Festival said that the rise in turnout in the 6th edition was chiefly linked to the raise of the number of laps in MazaynaDhafra in addition to the inclusion of many other special heritage competitions. The Organizing Committee added many new activities and introduced some adjustments to meet the aspirations of all participants. The number of laps of the Camel Mazayna were raised from 56 in the previous edition to 70 this year: 12 individual laps, and two camel laps (A general lap for local Assayel, and general lap for Majahim). The additional individual laps included 6 laps for local Assayel, and six laps for Majahim, and that from the age of the Mafrouda to the age of the Hayel. The laps were open to Sheikhs, and whoever wishes to take part from the tribes.
"In order to accommodate the increasing participation that reflects the prominence of the Festival, the raise in the number of laps to 70 comes along with the increase in the total value of the prizes to nearly 47 million Dirhams," the Festival's Director said.
He noted that unlike the previous editions, the open individual laps allowed those participating to take also part in the laps of Baynunah and Albayraq. This gave the opportunity to the new owners of camels to participate in the 20-lap competition and increase their chances.
Speaking of the high number of submissions, Al Mazrouei said that the organizing Committee had adopted a new system based on the refusal of pre-registration. He said that experience in previous editions had shown that some participants might change their choices more than once. "The Committee has decided to display the names of the laps on the gates to allow the participants to let their camels in whatever laps they decide to participate in. Hence, registration comes after participation so as to ease the pressure and accurately count the number of participants," he added.
As a result of the accumulated experience of the Organizing Committee, many obstacles were removed. In fact, the Committee managed to provide all the required services and harness the organizational efforts. It also succeeded in overcoming the problems posed by some participants who try to circumvent the regulations and conditions set for the competitions.
The Festival's official site, that had been arranged five years ago in terms of permanent and temporary infrastructure, also contributed to the increase in the number of participants. Among the other factors that contributed to the large participation was the keenness of the Higher Organizing Committee to meet all the needs of the participants, provide all the necessary requirements and offer all kinds of support. All these factors raised the 6th edition appeal to a large and growing number of visitors and participants.
A new competition, “Dates Mazayna” was held for the first time this year along with the annual Dates Packaging competition.
Al Mazrouei noted that the Festival had bestowed an unprecedented opportunity upon the locals. He said that the Festival organizers dealt with them for the supply of certain services, like food, tents and traditional meals cooked by housewives. This helped in securing a good income for many families in the region. The Traditional Market had also given investment opportunities for families, Emirati women and other women from the Gulf region. The sale of tools, artifacts, traditional equipment, perfumes, and products of handicrafts had turned into a profitable business.
The 6th edition had also succeeded in strengthening the social ties between the locals and brothers in the GCC region and contributed to the enhancement of the economic movement, and the consolidation of business relations and all the ties that might result from this.