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HISTORY & TRADITIONS - HERITAGE

Restoration of U.A.E. heritage and historic sites a priority, says Hamdan bin Zayed
posted on 30/09/2014

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region received on Monday at Al Nakheel Palace members of the executive committee for the restoration and conservation of historic forts in the Western Region which is part of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (ADTCA).
Following a presentation on the planned restoration and renovation of forts in the Western Region, Sheikh Hamdan said the historical sites in the region tell of families and tribes who inhabited areas for hundreds of years and who formed a rich heritage for the current and future generations.
He stressed the importance of renovating historical and cultural landmarks according to the highest standards.
Sheikh Hamdan referred to Western region's tourist map, launched last year by ADCTA which features all of the region's attractions, including desert, oases, forts, towers, in addition to archaeological and wildlife conservation sites. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395270284044.html

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Celebrating centuries of Al Nahyan poetry
posted on 01/09/2014

379-page book contains poems from Abu Dhabi's ruling family over the course of five centuries — from the 16th to the 20th century.
A collection of verses from 17 poets from Al Nahyan family has been published by the Poetry Academy under the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee umbrella.
The 379-page book contains poems from Abu Dhabi's ruling family over the course of five centuries — from the 16th to the 20th century.
The editors of the collection said the selected works is a "social contribution” to a literary genre that constituted an important part of the local identity and the region's culture and history.
It records the oldest versions of Al Wanna poetry, a form of poetry that characterised the Abu Dhabi society, dating back to Sheikh Dhiab bin Issa Al Nahyan, the first ruler of the emirate to establish a settlement on Abu Dhabi island.
The collection also records the oldest versions of Al Taghrouda poetry, which dates back to Sheikh Sultan bin Shakhbout Al Nahyan in the 19th century.
The Al Nahyan poetic experience also provides an insight into the lifestyle, personality and ideology of the members of the ruling family, who created verses for various purposes — from wisdom and advice to politics, love and enthusiasm.
Al Nahyan poets knew very well that poetry had a huge impact on communicating with all groups and was a perfect channel to explain many social, humanitarian and political affairs. In political poetry, the ruling Sheikhs were actually practicing politics through poetry. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was a master of this genre.
The collection, which comprises 132 poems with text and vocabulary explanations, is available at the Poetry Academy, National Library and bookshops across the country. - Khaleej Times - http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/inside.asp?xfile=/data/nationgeneral/2014/September/nationgeneral_September4.xml§ion=nationgeneral

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Dubai Municipality to build Guest House in Al Shindagha area
posted on 07/08/2014

Dubai Municipality held a follow-up meeting regarding its proposed Guest House Project, which will be implemented by its architectural heritage department in Al Shindagha area to discuss the detailed plan and design of the project such as titles, rooms, services and facilities to welcome official delegations and tourists.
The discussion covered different aspects such as providing a hall for exhibitions, a museum to display municipality's projects and photos of heritage that decorates the walls with attractive lighting. The amended design will submitted to the director general Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah for final approval.
The guest house will be located near by the metro station in Al Shindagha area and expected to include 13 rooms with attached toilets which will be used to accommodate DM's external delegations in addition to two meeting rooms and room for displaying awards and recognitions.
‘The guest house will be executed in line with the vision of Dubai Municipality in preserving the architectural heritage and traditions of the emirate and it will serve as cultural monument,' said Eng. Rashad Bukhash, director of architectural heritage department. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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TCA Abu Dhabi organises National Traditional Handicrafts Festival in October
posted on 07/07/2014

Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA Abu Dhabi, has announced the launch of a National Traditional Handicrafts Festival in the emirate's heritage heartland of Al Ain this coming October.
Running from October 23rd – 29th, and in line with the Authority's objectives to preserve, celebrate and promote the intangible heritage of the U.A.E., the festival will take place at the historic Souk Al Qattara and will feature a series of activities and initiatives, including a souk for crafts, and showcasing heritage material, and traditional products.
A full public programme will accompany the festival and will include heritage competitions for visitors of all ages, such as the Al Yola dance contest for children, a craftsmanship competition, preparation of traditional dishes and the traditional making of Arabic coffee in addition to traditional performances of Al Harbiyah, Al Ayyalah, Rebaba music and Al Shillah.
The festival aims to shed light on the importance of traditional craftsmanship in Emirati heritage and support craftsmen's efforts to preserve, revive, and transfer their skills to future generations. It will be supported by a number of Emirati organisations.
"Craftsmanship was a major source of income for our forefathers and is deep-rooted in our heritage," said Dr. Nasser Ali Al Hamairi, Director of TCA Abu Dhabi's Intangible Heritage Department. "Craftsmanship reflected the very essence of social values at the time and the deep bond between local people and their surrounding environment. Despite the scarcity of natural resources, people were able to invent tools to help them withstand harsh living conditions and these crafts added an aesthetic touch to the details of their daily lives.
du recognised as one of top 50 companies in Arab world by Forbes Middle East
The Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, du, has been recognised by Forbes Middle East as one of the top 50 companies in the Arab world, ranking at number 47 out of 500 companies.
The announcement was made during a ceremony organised by Forbes in Dubai, which listed the best 500 companies in the Arab world for 2014.
Osman Sultan, du's CEO, said, "It is an honour to be listed as of the best companies in the region. Since our launch in 2007, we have been committed to the concept of 'adding life to life' and to using the most innovative methods in our services.
Mr. Sultan continued, "du has had many significant and ground-breaking successes in the U.A.E., in the region and in the world, which is the reason for it being recognised on the list of top companies in the Arab world." The Forbes Middle East's Top 500 Companies in the Arab World listing is based on financial statements of publically-listed companies in 2013. The ranking is based on the company's total revenue, net profit, total assets and market value. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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U.A.E. chairs UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage meeting
posted on 06/06/2014

PARIS: U.A.E. on Wednesday chaired the fifth session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage which took place from 2 to 4 June 2014 at the headquarters of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris, and has become the first Arab country to chair such a meeting in the history of the international organisation thanks to the support of the 158 members of the organisation.
U.A.E.'s Awad Ali Saleh, Foreign Relations Advisor at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Heritage Authority, and chairman of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee the chaired the session which was attended by representatives member countries.
"U.A.E's chairmanship of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee and its annual meeting reflects all member countries' appreciation of the efforts it made in the past years to protect the world tangible and intangible heritage and to encourage and help poor countries to protect their heritage by listing it at the international organisation," Mr. Awad Ali Saleh told WAM.
"It also shows all member countries' recognition of U.A.E.'s support for the international organisation's activities and its close cooperation with all members, on safeguarding of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage, locally, in the Arab region as well as internationally." More than 600 participants attended the fifth General Assembly which concluded with substantial resolutions.
Mr. Saleh added that the successful discussions were positive and successful and contributed to the success of the fifth general assembly.
Starting from 2015, all nominations will be evaluated by a single Evaluation Body of twelve members appointed by the Committee, six experts representing States Parties non-Members of the Committee and six representatives of accredited NGO, taking into consideration equitable geographic representation and various domains of intangible cultural heritage.
The general assembly also decided to allocate more than US$4 million from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund to support safeguarding efforts of States Parties. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Nahyan takes note of Federal Antiquities Bill
posted on 13/05/2014

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development yesterday received an update on the federal draft law on antiquities prior to its submission to the Federal Cabinet for action as he chaired the 21st meeting of the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities (NCTA).
Sheikh Nahyan was also briefed on a proposal to establish the first e-register for documenting antiquities in the State which classify archaeological items locally and internationally.
Sheikh Nahyan also took note of a recommendation calling for reviewing strategic indexes and operational plans of the council.
Director General of NCTA Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi stated that the proposed antiquities bill will provide a legal framework and an international stature which enable the UAE to inscribe archaeological sites in the UNESCO's World Heritage List. The legislation defines the national archaeological treasures, their history and best mechanisms to safeguarding them from extinction.
He added that Sheikh Nahyan had instructed the NCTA to better organise the statistical work, and expanding customer service base through setting up counters at commercial and shopping centres to deliver detailed tourism information to visitors.
The meeting also discussed a series of initiatives aimed at promoting UAE tourism attractions locally and internationally. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –

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Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid attends 7th Saluki Hunting Championship, gives contest thumbs up
posted on 28/03/2014

Over 200 exotic Arabian greyhounds competed in another exciting edition of the 7th Saluki Hunting Championships in Al Marmoum area in Dubai amidst cloudy conditions while H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai watched the contest unfold from a distance.
The Saluki Hunting Championships are organised by the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Center under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid and are touted to be the most prestigious and expensive games in the traditional line up of sporting events.
Records were broken in the amateurs and professionals category this year by 2 and 4 seconds respectively, reaffirming the high quality of the greyhounds and the efforts of the contestants.
Salukis are some of the oldest known breeds of domesticated dogs in the world and this year's contest witnessed participation from South Africa, Australia and Syria apart from the UAE and the Gulf region.
45 males and 48 female salukis competed in the professional category covering a distance of 1 kilometer while 54 males and 59 females competed in the amateurs' category covering a distance of 2 kilometers. The qualifying rounds saw salukis chasing live prey, while a dummy gazelle was used in the finals.
Emirati contestant Ahmed Abdullah who has been actively involved in greyhound racing since 1999 participated with two hounds this year - a Turkish greyhound and a high breed Arabian saluki. "I train the hounds five days a week and take them through a running and swimming routine so that they are sufficiently prepared for the championship." Ahmed Saif Al Zafin, head of the organising committee of the Saluki Hunting Championships said, "Attractive prizes, including luxury cars for the first three winners and the thrill of competing in a traditional sport have contributed to enhancing the overall appeal of the championship this year.
Souad Darwish, Director of the Fazza Championships added, "The technical management of the championship has improved and the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Center is honoured to be a part of the revival of one of the oldest traditional Emirati sports." – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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UNESCO announcement on Dubai Creek set for June 15
posted on 23/03/2014

The committee responsible of the Dubai Creek bid aimed in becoming a World UNESCO Heritage Site have to patiently wait until June 15 when the confirmation of its status will be announced.
A heritage site, according to UNESCO, must be representative of historical events, traditions, cultures and activity as well as showcase a unique authentic scene.
"At the beginning of March, we had 10 ambassadors to UNESCO from different countries, come to visit Dubai. And at the start of May, we expect ICOMOS [International Council on Monuments and Sites] to release their report on Dubai Creek,” said Rashad Bukhash, Director of Architectural Heritage Department at Dubai Municipality, who also heads the UNESCO bidding committee.
ICOMOS is a subsidiary of UNESCO, and is an international non-governmental organisation of professionals, dedicated to the conservation of the world's historic monuments and sites.
"By May 2, ICOMOS will hand a copy of their report over to us so we can have an idea of where we stand. Even though we cannot make any modifications at this time, having the report will prepare us in responding to questions at the time of the vote,” explained Bukhash.
The World Heritage Centre, which is based in Paris, had already received Dubai Municipality's report last February on their role in the site. Meanwhile, the World Heritage Committee, which consists of representatives of 21 of the States Parties to the Convention elected by the General Assembly, will be casting their votes from June 15-25 in Doha.
"During the meeting, members can also decide to defer its decision and request further information on the sites, giving a limit from one to three years. Or they can also decide to reject the bid if they feel that there is no outstanding cultural significance, but we do not expect that to be the case,” he said.
Dubai Creek's proposed heritage site is made up of 16 areas, including Shaikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, Dubai Heritage and Diving Village, the Gold Souq, and Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/unesco-announcement-on-dubai-creek-set-for-june-15-1.1306788

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UAE forts: Important heritage icons a perfect storm Important forts
posted on 16/03/2014

Qasr Al Hosn: This fort in Abu Dhabi is built in one of the oldest inhabited sites in the UAE. It was constructed during the rule of Shaikh Shakhboot Bin Zayed Al Nahyan around 1795 and consists of two towers in a square compound. It served as the residence for the ruling Al Nahyan family. The fort has been renovated several times, and is now being developed into a cultural museum by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority. It is also featured on the Dh1,000 currency note.
Al Fahidi Fort: This Dubai fort is one of the most important heritage locations in the country. It was constructed in 1787 on the southern side of the Dubai Creek. Its location suggests that it served as a vantage point — inhabitants had a clear view of the sea and the surrounding land, and could defend Dubai from invaders. Al Fahidi Fort was renovated and turned into a museum after the formation of the UAE. It features on the Dh100 currency note.
Al Hisn Sharjah Fort: It is located at the centre of Sharjah City, and was built in 1820 by Shaikh Sultan Bin Saqr Al Qasimi. Once a residence of the ruling family of Sharjah and also used to defend the area from invasions, the fort now serves as a museum. Other notable forts in Sharjah include Al Hisn Kalba, Dibba Fort and Khan Fort, Most were constructed about 130 years ago.
Dhayah Fort: This is a 16th century fortress in Ras Al Khaimah that was used to watch the waters for invaders from the Arab and Gulf regions. It stands atop a mountainous dune in the emirate. Most historians believe the fort, which has two towers, was built by the ruling Al Qawasim family. Until 1964, the fort was used as a home for the ruling family. Among the many forts in Ras Al Khaimah, this is considered to be the most important.
Fujairah Fort: The structure was constructed more than 300 years ago, and its resilience over the years is credited to the mountain stone used to build it. It was severely damaged in the twentieth century by invaders, but has recently been restored.
Ajman Fort and National Museum: The beautiful fort, which now houses a museum, had served as the ruler's palace and office until 1970.
Umm Al Qaiwain Museum: This museum is housed in a fort built in 1768. The structure was also a residence for the ruling family in the area.
Sources: Abdullah Bin Taboor, Sharjah Government Department of Culture and Information, Ajman Culture and Media Department, UAE Interact. – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/uae-forts-important-heritage-icons-a-perfect-storm-1.1199455

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UNESCO registers Heart of Sharjah in the tentative list of World Heritage Sites
posted on 02/03/2014

The Heart of Sharjah has been registered in the tentative list of World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), according to an announcement of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and the Department of Culture and Information in Sharjah.
The new achievement reflects the significance of archaeological and historical heritage in the UAE and comes in line with Sharjah Islamic Cultural Capital 2014 celebrations.
Under the directives of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), has formed a task force to nominate the Heart of Sharjah to be included on the List of World Heritage Sites. The file will be evaluated by the UNESCO's bodies, which will conduct a number of visits and assessments over a period of 2 years before recommending whether to inscribe the Heart of Sharjah on the World Heritage List.
According to the selection criteria, the nominated site must be a place of outstanding natural importance such as a forest, mountain, island or manmade structures of cultural significance such as buildings or a city. Once listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the international organisation will protect the site and help with maintenance when needed.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi extended thanks and gratitude to H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, for his continuous support to the Heart of Sharjah's bid for a place on the list and for his directives aimed at highlighting the human and cultural heritage in Sharjah and the UAE.
She added, "The Heart of Sharjah has a multitude of historical and heritage sites which have outstanding historical value, as Sharjah served as a point of convergence of civilisations, a transit road for trade caravans on sea and land, and a meeting point between people and tribes. We will work to add this area of rich heritage to the list of World Heritage Sites to introduce the significant value of the UAE's history to the world.
Abdullah Mohammed Al Owais, Board Member of the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities, said that listing the Heart of Sharjah's as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a success that demonstrates the historical value of the UAE and will help boost tourism in the country, particularly cultural and heritage tourism. It will also show that the UAE's glorious present is based on a deep-rooted history.
Al Owais praised the role played by all government corporations as well as cultural and heritage stakeholders. He extended thanks to the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities for their outstanding efforts and the care they took with the nomination file which provided invaluable moral support, as well as for their support of heritage conservation, restoration and exploration practices across the country. He affirmed their intention to continue collaboration with UNESCO to register more sites on the list.
The Heart of Sharjah is located in the old part of the Emirate of Sharjah in the northern United Arab Emirates. According to historical sources, this location contributed to the development of trade. Al Edrissy - an 11th century geographer - stated that there was a port in the existing location of Sharjah. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
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Heart of Sharjah eyes World Heritage sites entry
posted on 19/02/2014

The emirate of Sharjah will submit a bid to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to have the Heart of Sharjah area be included on the UNESCO's preliminary list of World Heritage sites.
The Sharjah Executive Council discussed the application at its regular meeting, which was chaired by Shaikh Abdullah bin Salem Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council, held on Tuesday.
The council discussed a memorandum submitted by Abdullah Mohammad Al Owais, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Information, on listing the Heart of Sharjah area on the list of the World Heritage Sites.
Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, is closely following up the emirate's bid dossier. The department of culture has already prepared the dossier.
The emirate of Sharjah will submit a bid to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to have the Heart of Sharjah area be included on the UNESCO's preliminary list of World Heritage sites.
The Sharjah Executive Council discussed the application at its regular meeting, which was chaired by Shaikh Abdullah bin Salem Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council, held on Tuesday.
The council discussed a memorandum submitted by Abdullah Mohammad Al Owais, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Information, on listing the Heart of Sharjah area on the list of the World Heritage Sites.
Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, is closely following up the emirate's bid dossier. The department of culture has already prepared the dossier. – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/heart-of-sharjah-eyes-world-heritage-sites-entry-1.1292772

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Al Bayt Nabati TV: UAE all set to launch its own reality show
posted on 02/02/2014

Al Bayt programme is one of key projects undertaken by the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre aimed at instilling the themes of Nabati poetry.
The UAE is all set to launch its own reality TV show. Steering clear of reality TV drama, the Al Bayt Nabati TV programme will shed light on the values and traditions of the UAE's forefathers and present them to the new generation.
Coinciding with the anniversary of the accession of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as Crown Prince of Dubai, the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre unveiled the region's first of its kind cultural and media initiatives.
Focusing on Nabati poetry, Al Bayt programme is one of key projects undertaken by the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre aimed at instilling the themes of Nabati poetry, a style of poetry popular in the Gulf region for singing songs of fights, heroines, myths and celebrations, which has hugely enriched the region's history and culture. In an attempt to attract the younger generation, the programme will be presented via the Twitter platform, ensuring that a larger segment of people will compete with the shortest number of words but with eloquent meanings.
Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre also gave approval to establish Al Oula radio, which will broadcast at FM 107.4 MH. The radio station is aimed at upholding and spreading national heritage through objective and valuable programmes, crafting the community's heritage.
"Al Bayt will be a weekly programme tailor-made to attract the poetic talents of the young GCC people in the most modern manner as Twitter is the only way to compete, ensuring the winner is nominated by their style and eloquence rather than the number of voters,” said Abdulla Hamdan bin Dalmouk, CEO of Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre at a press conference organised on Saturday.
The programme jury includes some of the elite Nabati poets from the GCC. They are: Naif Al Rashidi (Kuwait), editor-in-chief of the local literature Al Mukhtalif Magazine; Mudgham Bu Sheiba (Saudi Arabia); Zayed bin Cruz (Qatar); and Mohammed Al Murr Bilabd Al Muhairy (UAE). "At the beginning of each series of Al Bayt programme, one part of the poetic line will be unveiled but with a hidden meaning, following which the participant can tweet the other part of the line that compliments the meaning.”
All tweets are then assessed before passing them on to the jury, which will decide the best ones for 40 minutes with intervals every 10 minutes to review tweets. Once nominations are opted, the presenter and jury will move to the stage where each member of the jury picks two best participations, amounting to eight in total. At this stage, the poet who has been able to present the most correct option will be the winner. The winner will be granted Dh100,000 and will qualify to the last series.
At each programme, a singer will be hosted to recite a poetry. The last part of the series, following the poetry competition, will be a dedicated to an "image competition” where an image is presented and audience have to aspire a poetic line to be sent to the programme via tweets afterwards. Those lines are assessed for one full week by the quality and rhyme committees as well as the jury members who will pick 100 lines to be presented at the beginning of next series. The members will then vote 10 lines of poetry out of which the winner will be announced with the best image competition.
Majid Abdul Rahman, Communications Director at the Office of the Crown Prince of Dubai, said: "The launch of Al Bayt programme and Al Oula aimed to preserve and widespread the UAE's unique heritage through generations comes at a very important time especially with the current unprecedented level of challenges characterised by the cultural openness and huge technological development in telecommunications.” – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/nationgeneral/2014/February/nationgeneral_February13.xml§ion=nationgeneral

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Aldar supports Emirati culture with Hoyamal activities at World Trade Centre Souk
posted on 28/01/2014

Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Chairman of Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation for Humanitarian Affairs, The World Trade Centre Souk, developed by Aldar Properties PJSC, has kicked-off a number of initiatives under its Hoyamal campaign.
Held in collaboration with the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation for Humanitarian Affairs, the initiatives are aimed at supporting Emirati culture and educate foreign expatriates and tourists on the country's heritage. These include a market, art exhibitions and activities for all ages.
Hoyamal, named after the traditional rallying cry used by local pearl divers, is an on-going campaign initiated by Aldar that celebrates and raises awareness of local culture through a variety of channels. The WTC Souk is rapidly becoming a leading cultural and art destination in Abu Dhabi.
The official launch ceremony of the Hoyamal campaign took place on Sunday evening at the WTC Souk in the presence of Mohamed Haji Al Khoori, Director-General of the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation for Humanitarian Affairs, and Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Deputy CEO of Aldar Properties.
The event was also attended by senior officials from the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation and from Aldar Properties.
Mohamed Haji Al Khoori, Director-General of the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, commenting on the collaboration, said, "Under the wise leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed and continued by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Emirates has become a magnificent mix of twenty first century futuristic developments rising from the sands, yet at the same time it remains steeped in historic tradition.
"There is a determination that the past should not be forgotten, which is why the Khalifa Foundation is delighted to collaborate with WTC Souk in initiatives that ensure our rich cultural heritage is preserved and shared and, at the same time, also offers opportunities and support to local families, which is one of the central pillars of the Foundation." Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Aldar Properties, said, "The UAE has a very rich cultural heritage that deserves to be recognised and celebrated. Aldar is committed to driving local social and cultural engagement through our Hoyamal initiative. The response from Emiratis and foreigners alike has been very positive and with this encouragement we are looking into further initiatives under the Hoyamal umbrella."
One of the initiatives of the campaign is the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation Bazaar, a market at WTC Souk, where UAE families, specifically women, exhibit their handcrafts, products and artwork.
The WTC Souk is also celebrating President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, by wishing him a speedy recovery and by installing a large white board in its main square for visitors to write down messages expressing their appreciation to the leader. As part of this "Thank You Khalifa" initiative, the artist Noor will also be decorating the white board frame to further express the gratitude of the people of the UAE to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa. - Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Heritage Village: Reviving a national legacy
posted on 27/01/2014

The Heritage Village is a brainchild of the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre that adds a new dimension to the Global Village.
Ignoring a sudden downpour that has created puddles difficult to navigate and a sharp nip in the air, Hanifa Qureshi has come to the Global Village from Abu Dhabi chasing a hope. As her elder daughter Maria pushes her wheelchair, manoeuvring through the crowds and slush, and the younger, Sophia, struggles to keep an umbrella over the heads of all three, the 64-year-old matriarch scans the passing stalls anxiously to check if they are close to their destination.
It's a person rather than a pavilion that the trio is searching for. They want to meet Fatima Essa, one of the top-notch practitioners of traditional herbal medicine. In an initiative that adds value to the festival, Essa is available for chats with visitors, offering health tips. Hanifa Qureshi suffers from severe gout and friends who have consulted Essa with satisfying results have urged her to try out a traditional cure.
Fatima Essa sits in a traditional hut in an area known as the Heritage Village. Though the Global Village, Dubai's unique annual tourism and cultural event, was launched in 1997, the Heritage Village is a new initiative started this year. It is the brainchild of the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre that was founded by Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, in April 2013 to promote the Emirati national heritage, especially among the youth.
"The Global Village has pavilions representing different countries,” says Sumaya Saeed Khalfan, marketing and corporate communication director at the centre. "We wanted to put up something that would showcase traditional life in the UAE as well as the region. There is a heritage village in Deira; we thought we would build another one at the Global Village.
"One of the most important parts of a nation's heritage is its people. So the Heritage Village brings you people who represent traditional arts and skills. We don't want visitors to only hear of heritage or traditional lifestyle. We want them to experience it from people who know it first-hand.”
The little clusters in the Heritage Village represent different kinds of traditional architecture. They were all built when the event started. Visitors admire the Saffa house, the hardy residence built of stone for mountain areas. A little farther is the Bait Al Sha'ar, the Bedouin shelter made of sheep's wool. Three authentic Bedouins sit chatting at the shelter and visitors can walk in and share a cuppa with them.
Another exhibit is the Kirin tent, built from palm leaves and supported by poles. Once found near the coast, now it could be a permanent exhibit to remind visitors of the resourcefulness of the traditional way of life.
Besides the traditional architecture, artefacts and people, Heritage Village is also showcasing the fauna associated with the Arab way of life. Two Arabian horses stand patiently nearby. In the next enclosure a billy goat rears up on its hind legs, trying to cadge treats from passers-by.
But the most arresting animals are the two camels rigged up in an eye-catching gear. These are no ordinary beasts but celebrities in their own rights.
Ghaiman and Dhafar have now become legends, taking part in Yemeni Odysseus Ahmed Al Qasimi's epic 40,000 km trip to Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Al Qasimi has brought them back to Dubai as a thanksgiving gift for Shaikh Hamdan since the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre sponsored his last trip to Africa.
Perhaps the most eloquent tribute to the Emirati's pride in his country is the replica of the Union House, the history-making site where on December 2, 1971 the treaty to establish the Arab world's first federation of states, the United Arab Emirates, was signed.
"The Union House was the place where the UAE dream came true,” says Khalfan. "We wanted to show people that part of our history.”
Though a replica, the "Union House” at the Heritage Village will remain a centre of nationalist activities as long as the Global Village continues. On November 6, the UAE Flag Day was celebrated here, National Day on December 2, and on January 4 the special occasion when His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum became the Ruler of Dubai eight years ago. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/yesterdayevent/2014/January/yesterdayevent_January28.xml§ion=yesterdayevent

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Past meets present at Al Dhafra Festival
posted on 23/12/2013

More than an annual celebration of the Bedouin life, Al Dhafra Festival has turned into a school of heritage and culture for visitors and Emirati younger generations. Here the door is open to learn about the desert, its people, the way of life, the different traditions, and where the glorious past meets the present to lay the ground for a brighter future.
Held in Madinat Zayed in Al Gharbia (the Western Region) in Abu Dhabi, the Al Dhafra Festival is organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee from the 14th to the 28th of December, and has been marked since its launch by the remarkable presence of children and youth in various activities and competitions.
This year, the Higher Organising Committee stepped up efforts to draw more children and youths as it chose to hold the Festival in a period that falls within the school and university holidays. It has also prepared a whole programme for students and children to have fun and at the same time contribute to Festival activities and events.
The Al Dhafra Festival is a unique platform that displays the qualities of Emirati society, and more precisely the Bedouin society which is marked by unity and cohesion. The noble values of ancestors are transmitted from father to son and mother daughter in a prudent and judicious way. Al Dhafra Festival offers a perfect environment and opportunity for the process of diffusion and communication of historical legacy by drawing all generations, old and young, to one site.
At the camps erected by Bedouin tribes and families in the arid desert of the Gate of the Empty Quarter, grand-fathers, fathers and children sit together for long hours, chatting, telling stories and tales of the past, and sharing special, warm moments. Each family or tribe has its elder, who always sits in the middle. The discussions usually include anecdotes, accounts of past experiences, and information about the desert, camels, falcons and various aspects of desert life.
Ahmad, a 19-year-old Emirati, said, "The notion of time disappears here. You never get bored and you always learn. I love to listen to elders. They always have something to teach and tell. They are a boundless source of knowledge that deserves our highest respect and esteem." At the camps, family and tribe members show their hospitality to any visitor. For them, it is a question of pride and honour. Hospitality itself turns into one of the Festival's competitions: Who is the most generous, ready to lend a hand, and welcoming? When a visitor comes, youths and children are the first to greet. They invite you to join their gathering, offer coffee, tea, Qaraq (tea with milk), dates and traditional sweets. Then, they present him to the elder. Any guest is treated like a member of the family or tribe.
Hamza, a 12-year-old, said, "Here in camps we share roles. Every one of us has a job to do. We watch over the camels that we brought to participate in the Camel Mazayna, or beauty contest. We sit together and talk. For me, Al Dhafra and the desert camps are the best school ever. I learn a lot in here and I am always ready to learn more." Away from camps, children and youths are present in all competitions and events. They have become the faithful public of Al Dahfra Festival. At the Camel Mazayna, children and youths occupy the majority of seats, they come with their families and tribes to encourage and cheer their camels.
Adbullah, a 9-year-old wearing a Kandoura (white robe) and holding a Khaizarana (multi-use cane), said, "I want to become a member of the Judging Committee in the future. Camels are beautiful. My father is a camel owner. Judges know many things about camels, but I think our camels are the best. We are going to win, I am quite sure." At the official site of the Falcon competition, children and youths are also present. Some young people are already falconers, and the children there are eager to learn. Every father brings his sons, no matter how young they are.
Mohammad, an Emirati falconer from Dubai and a father of a 4-year-old boy said, "I bring him with me to every competition. I am so happy that I succeeded in transmitting my passion to him. He loves falcons and wants to learn. But, I remain very careful. I want him to learn everything but at the right time." At the Traditional Market, grand-mothers and mothers do not come alone. Daughters are present in all the 180 shops of Emirati women. Al Dhafra Festival has given all these women an excellent opportunity to join efforts and work together to prepare the products, display them in a creative way, and sell them.
Um Ahmad, who owns a shop which sells dates and date-derived products, said, "We have a small farm in Liwa, on which we grow date palms. Since an early age, I have been working on dates. We have Khallas, Dabbas and Shishi. My mother taught me the various techniques to preserve dates, and the best methods to use them. We have fresh and dried dates, syrup, and paste. I have two daughters who help me at home and here in the Market. They have learned many things." The desire to give knowledge becomes more meaningful when it comes along with the younger generation's desire to learn. Al Dhafra Festival and its organisers have always been keen on this culture of sharing and working together for the best of the Emirati culture and heritage. The concept consists in preserving Bedouin culture while progressing towards the future, and is inspired by the words of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (God Bless His Soul): "I don't want to bring the Bedouin to the city, but to bring culture to the Bedouin." "We owe this social cohesion and unity to the wise vision of the late Sheikh Zayed, to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, and to all our rulers. We have been taught to remain united, share knowledge, and preserve our culture in which we take pride. Al Dhafra Festival is a unique occasion that bring us together, and an exceptional platform to market our products and promote them," said one of the daughters of Um Ahmad.
Once inside the Traditional Market, a plethora of products, bright colours and tempting odours invite tourists and local visitors to explore the different shops. Perfumes, antiques, dates' varieties, honey, traditional clothes, and other products on display offer a glimpse into the history of the UAE and the Gulf region.
The Market is a microcosm of the larger Arab Bedouin society. The major aim behind its creation consists in summarising hundreds of years of desert life into one place and one space.
Umm Mubarak, who began learning traditional dress and cloth making at the age of 15, said, "We learned from our ancestors and older generations. In our craft, we use the same old patterns and criteria, but we also add a new touch. Our goal is not strictly material. We seek to promote our traditional attire and believe that the responsibility to preserve customs and traditions lies on our shoulders. We remain determined keep our heritage in our hands." The best way to teach children is to teach them when they are having fun and the Organising Committee of Al Dhafra Festival was aware of this fact when it created the Children's Village and chose the Traditional Market as a permanent location.
Bringing children to a site where traditional products of all sorts are displayed on a daily basis appears to be a perceptive idea. There, children can watch, touch and learn about the different crafts and materials and at the same time enjoy their time at the Festival.
At the Village, young girls of all ages sit with older women and are trained in different traditional crafts like Sadu (a form of weaving for the production of fine furniture and decorative accessories) henna, coffee preparation, and the making of mats and even coffins with palm leaves. Others sit and read, or paint at the Children's Library. Entertainment is also on the menu with characters like the Dabdoub (bear) and daily cultural competitions.
Meanwhile, students from the Vocational Education Development Centre (VEDC) are participating in Al Dhafra Festival for the third time this year. Their role and tasks have developed over the past years.
"We are trained in security procedures and we work alongside the police forces in checking visitor passes and ensuring access only for people with the required authorisation and badges. Our efforts in helping the police provide a better service for both visitors and participants in Al Dhafra," said one student who was standing near the main entrance of the Mazayna.
The VEDC students also help in the handling of the camels at the Mazayna, and some of them are chosen to lend a hand in the VIP section. Al Dhafra Festival offers these students a chance to explore and be exposed to their heritage and culture. They learn the best methods and techniques of the past from the school staff, camel handlers and elders.
VEDC is a boarding institute that caters for Emiratis who have an interest in vocational studies rather than mainstream academic education, enabling them to become citizens who will play an active role in contributing to the UAE culture, society and economy. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Camels compete for beauty prize at Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra Festival
posted on 20/12/2013

What makes a camel beautiful? Just ask any of the hundreds of owners from around the region flocking to Al Dhafra Festival's camel beauty competitions.
"The judges are looking for camels with big heads, wide necks, firm ears, broad cheeks and big whiskers,” said Ali Al Mansouri, a camel owner and member of the Mazayna Al Dhafra organising committee.
"The body should be long, the hump and the back should be big, and the colour and posture of the camel are important.”
The two-week Al Dhafra heritage event in the Western Region, now in its seventh year, includes horse and dog races, a falconry competition, auctions and traditional markets.
But the big attraction is the daily camel beauty competitions, held for two breeds – the light-coloured Asayel, native to the UAE and Oman, and the darker Majahim, from Saudi Arabia.
Five Asayel and four Majahim competitions are held every day. Each competition starts with 100 camels, from which judges pick the 50 most beautiful, then narrow it down to 10.
Owners of the top 10 receive prizes including luxury cars and cash prizes of between Dh18,000 and Dh30,000.
Mr Al Mansouri said judges took great pains to ensure the integrity of the beauty competition because the stakes were so high.
"We try to be as much careful as possible and avoid any outside influence during the judging process,” he said.
"Mazayna Al Dhafra has a good reputation for integrity and reliability that we are keen on preserving.”
Owner are expected to keep their camels in perfect condition, Mr Al Mansouri said. Any camel with skin disease cannot be a winner.
Historically, camels were the symbol of a tribe's wealth and power, as well as being used for milk, transport and other purposes, he said.
The festival, sponsored by Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, runs until December 28. – The National

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Dh46m worth of prizes up for grabs at Al Dhafra fest
posted on 17/12/2013

Al Dhafra Festival is packed with competitions, from a camel beauty contest, camel milking, falcon hunting, dates packaging, photography, handicrafts and classic cars competitions, to Arabian horses and saluki races.
Through the gates of Al Dhafra Festival, just outside Madinat Zayed, endless trucks selling wood for camp fires, rows of makeshift shops offering camping equipment, and high-priced camel farming products greet visitors to the festival. An Adnoc truck acting as a petrol station can also be seen at the annual Bedouin heritage festival entrance, but the trademark tents and thousands of camels roaming the desert grounds are noticeably missing this time around. During the past six years, this was a site to behold: over 1,000 camel owners and 20,000 camels were stationed all around the area. This year only about 500 camels were registered on the first day of the competition, and the second day did not see many more on show. A small roundabout takes visitors to the traditional Arab souk, which also serves as the site for a classic cars competition. By the second day of the festival, December 15, only a handful of Lamborghinis and 90s pick-up Toyotas had lined up for the best looking classic vehicle competition. A long paved road cuts through the desert, leading to Million Street, where the camel auction will take place later on, and to the main arena, where the camel beauty competition unfolds daily. Taking place over two weeks — from December 14 to 28 — Al Dhafra Festival is packed with competitions, from a camel beauty contest, camel milking, falcon hunting, dates packaging, photography, handicrafts and classic cars competitions, to Arabian horses and saluki races. The total worth of the competition prizes is pegged at Dh46 million and includes 198 cars. Most of the awards are for the camel beauty competition, known as muzayna, which remains the focus of Al Dhafra Festival. The contest will feature no less than 70 rounds for Asayel (golden brown) and Majahim (black) camels. "Every day we have five Asayel and four Majahim competitions. Each one starts with 100 camels; the judges select the best 50, and finally the top 10 are awarded,” explained director of the camel competitions at Al Dhafra Mohammed Al Muhairi. Each of these 10 winners is awarded a brand new 2014 Nissan Patrol, worth around Dh300,000. The first runners-up will receive a new Chevrolet Tahoe each, while the third place winners receive a Nissan pickup. The following seven positions will be awarded cash ranging from Dh30,000 to Dh18,000, respectively. Awards aside, winning camels instantly climb the value ladder. On the first day of the festival, one such camel was bought for a whopping Dh1.5 million by an Abu Dhabi Shaikh. About half of these rounds are for Sheikhs' camels, but the winners' awards are given away to the respective camel-farm's manager. Salayem Bakhir Al Menhali, in charge of Shaikh Zayed bin Khalifa bin Sultan Al Nahyan's camels, was one such lucky winner. "I'm so happy! We won the top award, the Nissan station. There was a long wait before the winner was announced, but it was worth it. Our camel won and it is not surprising. She is the best,” Al Menhali told Khaleej Times. As has become the tradition, the moment the winning camel is announced, screams of joy erupt and ghutras (traditional Arab men's head gear) are thrown into the air. As soon as the award ceremony is done, the owner, his friends and family, and the camel's caretaker all gather around the camel and cover her up in expensive saffron — singing and dancing around her. "We also have competitions for groups of six and 20 camels, and the biggest of them all, the Bayraq lap, for the best looking group of 50 camels, which awards Dh1 million to the top winner,” said Al Muhairi. As usual, the best is kept for last, so the Bayraq will take place towards the end of the festival. – Khaleej Times
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UAE warrior tribe embark on a new campaign
posted on 16/12/2013

Al Shohouh tribesmen, once the UAE's fearsome mountain warriors, are on a new mission — to conquer the hearts and minds of people by sharing with them their little-known culture and heritage.
Gathering under the umbrella of Al Shohouh National Heritage Society, these mountain dwellers organised the UAE's first Mountain Day on December 12 — a day after the world marked International Mountain Day.
Set up on the foothills of Jebel Hafeet in the Green Mubazarra Resort, the tribe showcased its people's lifestyle, culture and heritage and raised awareness about the importance of the mountains. The tribe's centuries-old history and culture is deeply shrouded in the mysteries of the rugged mountain valleys in the north of country — mainly in Ras Al Khaimah.
The event was organised with the cooperation of the Department of Geology at the UAE University (UAEU) and Al Ain Municipality. An exhibition of items used by people living in the mountains was also displayed.
Dr Ahmad Ali Murad, Vice-Dean of the Department of Geology at the UAEU, said celebrating Mountain Day was an important initiative.
"The day helped us educate people about the mountains, their inhabitants and their peculiar lifestyle,” he said.
One such peculiarity of the Al Shohouh tribe is their custom of yelling in the mountains. They demonstrated this tradition in the resort with shrieks that shattered the silence around the mountains. Visitors looked towards a small hill and saw another group of Emiratis waving their arms and yelling. The group later marched down the hill and joined the rest of the tribesmen for cultural and traditional dance performances.
"It's Nadb'a, a typical folk custom of the Al Shohouh tribe,” Abdullah Rashid Bin Laquoos Al Shahi, Chairman of the Al Shohouh National Heritage Society, told Gulf News.
The yells, cries and some words uttered by the tribesmen were in a local dialect that was difficult to understand.
Scaring off enemies
Nadb'a, said Al Shahi, is a custom unique to Al Shohouh tribesmen. A man stands in a circle of young tribesmen and utters the first shriek raising his arm. He also utters a flurry of words, with the mix of yells and words resembling a wolf howling.
"It's our centuries-old way to warn the tribesmen of an attack in the mountain valleys,” said Ahmad Al Shahi, a member of the group.
The noise, he said, was also used to scare the enemy in days gone by. This tradition has now been adopted as a gesture of joy and thanks, he said. Nadb'a is now performed mainly at wedding receptions.
Abdullah Al Shahi said that it was the first time the day had been celebrated in the UAE.
"The idea behind the day is to educate people on the importance of mountains and the life and culture they preserve in their valleys,” he said.
Many people still depend on mountains and their resources to live, he said.
He said the Al Shohouh National Heritage Society, established in 1992, has an office in Ras Al Khaimah and its head office is located in Abu Dhabi. Its main focus is on the promotion of culture, tradition, and history of people living in the UAE's mountains.
The late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan paid special attention to the country's mountains and its dwellers and a similar approach is being taken by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The society, said Al Shahi, has some 940 members, membership opened to women in 2006. The society enjoys close working relations with a number of UAE and foreign organisations and organises cultural and traditional performances such as Al Eyaleh, Al Nadb'a, Al Dawah, and Al Harbya all over the country. – Gulf News
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Al Dhafra Festival kicks off in Abu Dhabi
posted on 15/12/2013

Nearly 25,000 camels will participate in the world's only camel beauty contest set to take place during the Al Dhafra Festival's seventh edition, which kicked off on Saturday in the Western Region.
With Dh50 million in prizes to be won during the 15-day event, visitors will witness everything from classic car competitions to horse racing and the Festival's iconic Mazayana, or camel beauty contest.
The Mazayana will take place in 70 laps to accommodate the contest's 1,500 participants and their camels. Last year, the contest hosted participants from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Jordan and Yemen during which there were 200 winning camels.
Under the patronage of Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Festival is taking place in the Western Region's Madinat Zayed until December 28.
Considered by organisers as a celebration of Bedouin life, the Al Dhafra Festival also features a traditional souq with a variety of Emirati handicraft, poetry and photography contests. Youngsters will also have an opportunity to learn about Emirati history at the Children's Village.
Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazroui, chairman of the higher organising committee of the festival said earlier: "Al Dhafra Festival is not just a celebration that repeats itself. It is a solid bridge that memory uses to cross from past to present, inspired by our shining heritage and thriving present. The 7th edition carries a lot of fun and benefit for the lovers of Bedouin life, others who are interested in the revival of the Arab civil heritage and those who desire to explore this heritage and its manifestations in the Emirati future vision.”
For its part, the Abu Dhabi Police has also made preparations to ensure that the Festival runs smoothly. Colonel Ojeil Ali Abdullah Al Junaibi, Director of the Western Region Police Directorate stressed the importance of constructive cooperation between visitors, participants, and police officers that will be present at the Festival.
"The police will work within the framework of the Festival in order to meet their demands, keep them safe, and help them to access the locations they want to visit,” said Al Junaibi. – Gulf News
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Dhafra Festival panel reviews preparations
posted on 13/12/2013

The Organising Committee of Al Dhafra Festival 2013 has reviewed preparations for the festival scheduled to commence next Sunday under the patronage of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi, which met earlier this week under the chairmanship of Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazroui, Advisor for Culture and Heritage in the Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Chairman of the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee, discussed all the organisational, administrative, financial, logistical, and media affairs required to ensure the achievement of the Festival's objectives and mission.
"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 Festival and to facilitate all the procedures for participants in the various competitions and activities,” Mazroui added.
The 7th edition of Al Dhafra Festival is being held from December 14 to 28, 2013, in Madinat Zayed, in Al Gharbia (The Western Region).
"The preservation of heritage, one of the main pillars of our national identity and civil and humane capital, represents a cornerstone of the policy that was established by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” he said.
Mazrouei saluted the constant follow-up by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, and his keenness on various Festival activities.
The Festival is sponsored by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) Group of Companies and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.
"Al Dhafra Festival has turned into a regional and international heritage event. It has succeeded in implementing the strategy aimed at preserving and reviving the cultural heritage of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its various aspects,” Al Mazroui said.
Mazroui extended his thanks and gratitude to President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his generous support of the projects that are aimed at preserving and promoting heritage and for his constant encouragement to continue with the reinforcement of the culture of festivals and heritage events. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Thousands flock to Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival
posted on 12/12/2013

For some of Mohammed Al Maamari's generation, the traditional Emirati way of life survives only through the stories of their parents and grandparents. That was why, said Mr Al Maamari, a 27-year-old police officer, he attended the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival several times in recent years to help him better understand this bygone era.
Mr Al Maamari said this year's event at Al Wathba in the capital was the biggest yet, although he hoped it would continue to grow.
"We cannot forget the traditional things because they were with our fathers,” he said.
Now in its fourth year, the free public festival is a two-week long celebration of Emirati culture.
Its first week included events such as camel, horse and dog racing, falconry shows and a shooting contest. The camel races offered prizes worth a total of Dh30 million, said Salem Al Mostaka, the festival spokesman.
There was also a contest to find the best camel milk, with Dh200,000 worth of prizes on offer.
Alongside the competitive element at the fair is a host of historical and cultural attractions.
For example, the festival began on December 2 with an operetta about Sheikh Zayed, the founding President, which featured more than 3,000 artists.
Mr Al Mostaka said about 24,000 people visited on opening day, and an estimated 100,000 during the first week. While the majority of the visitors were Emiratis, he said guests from the US, Germany, Turkey and other Arabian Gulf countries also attended.
Reem Alawi, an organiser, said the high turnout for the event "shows that we don't just forget our traditional ways”.
One of the most popular exhibits was hosted by the National Centre for Documentation and Research, which featured photographs of Sheikh Zayed and other government officials, as well as old newspaper front pages and weaponry.
The exhibition also included medals presented to Sheikh Zayed by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the former Lebanese president Amine Gemayel.
There was also a heritage village that featured traditional food, handmade clothing and home decorations, such as carpets made from palm leaves. Sitting on cushions in front of small cooking stations, women from the General Women's Union cooked dishes such as chickpeas and sweet bread, then offered them to visitors for free.
Inside the festival souq, there were about 120 stalls selling crafts, incense, oud perfume, coffee, spices and clothing. One of the stall holders was Bushra Mohammed, 42, who runs her own business, Silver Fabric Boutique, from her home in Al Ain.
She said that while many of the women selling their wares at the festival did not necessarily need to work, "they feel better when they are working”.
For the first time this year, the festival included a recreation of a 1957 police station, complete with men dressed in the khaki-coloured uniforms and orange kaffiyehs worn by the officers in that period.
Another visitor was Miriam Al Mazrouei, an 18-year-old college student, who attended with a group of her classmates. For her the festival was "all about the food”.
Meanwhile, Hamed Al Bloshi, a 27-year-old law student, said he was impressed by the event but would have liked to have seen more about villagers' lifestyles before the discovery of oil, such as exhibits detailing the sea-based economy.
Mr Al Maamari also hoped that in future years organisers might include an exhibition on traditional agricultural methods, such as the falaj irrigation system.
"We must save these things for us and our children,” he said.
The event, which has been organised by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, runs until Saturday and is open from 1pm to 10pm. – The National
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Al Dhafra festival gets major airing in Europe
posted on 06/11/2013

Famous for its camel beauty contest, the annual Al Dhafra Festival, which runs in Abu Dhabi's Al Gharbia (Western Region) every December, is now being actively promoted in the Europe's tourism industry.
The four-star Tilal Liwa Hotel, which is managed by Danat Hotels and Resorts, has teamed up with the UAE's Holiday Moments and L'Tur, one of Europe's biggest tour operators to market the festival, which this year runs from December 15th until the 28th.
"We have begun marketing the event in Germany and five other European countries, and we believe the unique heritage offering of the festival will resonate well with the German market," explained Ayman Ashor, General Manager, Tilal Liwa Hotel.
Earlier this year agents from the L'tur network visited Abu Dhabi on a trip co-organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), to familiarise themselves with the destination.
"They were impressed and pleasantly surprised by what they found," said Radek Strejcek, Managing Director, Holiday Moments. "They were particularly taken with Abu Dhabi's cultural offering which prompted his initiative. This year's package will feature three nights at Tilal Al Liwa with an extension either at the five-star Al Raha Beach Hotel and Park Hyatt on Saadiyat Island. Really we are testing the market and if successful, which we anticipate it will be, we will continue to promote an offering around it and look to expand packaging around the emirate's other cultural events." The Al Dhafra Festival has dedicated special shows for 'Asayel' (pedigree) and 'Majahim' (dark-skinned) camels, and the unique 'camel beauty contest'. It also features a traditional souq, a camel auction and various contests for traditional handicrafts, poetry, date packaging and photography. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Dubai Creek stands test of time
posted on 20/10/2013

The creek – known in Arabic as Khor Dubai – is considered as a unique heritage not only because of its location, but its nature and vitality in comparison with other creeks around the world.
Throughout the test of time, settlements were made around water and the city of Dubai was no different. Even though the city has witnessed a vast amount of growth and undergone several phases of dredging and expansion, the creek's shape has not changed in the last 1,000 years.
It has managed to maintain its authenticity and versatility of fusing the past and the present through its trading connections with countries around and beyond the Arabian Gulf, evidently with the docking of merchant dhows and the flourishing bazaars of silks and spices.
Speaking to Gulf News ahead of the UNESCO visit expected to take place on October 21, Rashad Bukhash, Director of Architectural Heritage Department at Dubai Municipality, explained that Dubai Creek is currently in the final stages of its bid in becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site by 2014.

"Dubai Creek was nominated according to UNESCO's cultural standard. Alongside the Creek and its two banks, we can find the infusion of cultures and that is very evident in the architecture of the buildings, which projects the city's cultural interaction and diversity. Over 130 years ago, Dubai used to trade with East Africa, India, East Asia and South Persia,” said Bukhash.
Another aspect as to how the creek meets UNESCO's standard is because it is considered as a distinctive natural scene, enabling an urban community to be built around it and which continues to develop. The saltwater creek divides the city into two main parts, Deira and Bur Dubai, with its ending at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary - 14 kilometres from its origin at the Arabian Gulf.
The 14-kilometre long creek starts at Shindagha, proceeds to Al Maktoum Bridge then and passes through Al Fahidi Fort, Souk Al Kabeer in Bur Dubai and through the Gold Souq and Al Ahmadiya School in Deira.
"The community is still in touch with the spirit of the location, and can be regarded as the throbbing heart of Dubai. This rich source of life did not come about by the pearling industry alone, but as a result of the whole area being a centre for trade that embraced different cultures and which assisted in the city's dynamic community,” he said.
"Part of the criteria in becoming a World Heritage Site is to keep the authenticity of the area and to manage it to a certain specification. As part of our management's efforts, we have laid out several regulations so that new buildings cannot be constructed within the protected site while new buildings in the buffer zone have to be meet certain requirements,” said Bukhash,
He added that old buildings with wind towers can still be seen along the creek's banks, which was used as a ventilation system - reflecting how Emiratis used to live before the country's modernisation. – Gulf News
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UAE’s folk art associations to share stage at hospitality championship
posted on 19/10/2013

For the first time in the history of the UAE, folk art associations across the nation will unite at the same forum to present vignettes of Emirati culture and tradition to the world.
The Heritage and Hospitality Exhibition, a key element of the Dubai World Hospitality Championship (DWHC), will feature a variety of cultural performances by members of folk art associations from different emirates.
Dubai Folk Arts Society, Al Shohouh National Heritage Association in Abu Dhabi, Umm Al Qaiwain Folk Arts and Heritage Association, Bin Majed Association in Ras Al Khamiah, Ras Al Khaimah Folk Arts and Kayaking Society, Sharjah Association for Folk Arts and Theater, Al Rams Folk Arts and Kayaking Association and Ajman Association for Folk Arts and Theatre will host cultural displays at the dedicated Heritage Village that is expected to be a crowd-puller at the three-day DWHC culinary extravaganza.
Ahmed Bin Hareb Al Falahi, president of Dubai World Hospitality Championship, said, "We have a wealth of variegated folk art here in the UAE. However, global awareness about these is very limited. Through the DWHC, we hope to showcase our great heritage to both the expatriate community of Dubai as well as to our international visitors.”
As with all other cultures in the world, dances are a strong element of the Emirati culture. The Heritage Village will enable visitors to experience first-hand the various ethnic dance forms of the UAE, with some uniquely colourful Emirati touches such as henna design and homemade crockery.
The associations participating in the Heritage Village will treat visitors to visual displays of Emirati folk arts and theatre.
Traditional dance performances including Al Eyaleh, Al Nadba, Al Dawah, Ybuab, Al Razif, Al A'rda, Al Aahel, Al Liwa, Shalat Al Bahar, Al Mdima, Al Nuban, Al Andima, Al Harbya, Al Hudo, Al Nahmat Al Bahrya, Al Hban and Al Suma among others will offer visitors an insight into life in the UAE much before shiny skyscrapers transformed its skyline and lifestyle.
Hassan Lagher from Dubai Folk Arts Association said, "Emirati art forms have a grace and structure that is uniquely our own. Every region has its indigenous dance form, and we have had years of experience in staging dance shows that reflect our heritage. However, this is the first time we are getting the opportunity to combine our strengths, and we expect great things to come from this debut collaboration.”
Organised by the Za'abeel Palace Hospitality under the directive of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the Dubai World Hospitality Championship will take place from Nov.16-18 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Apart from the Heritage and Hospitality Exhibition, the event will stage a series of competitions that will witness 700 professional and amateur chefs demonstrating their artistic and aesthetic competencies. – The Gulf Today

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UAE boasts a tapestry of local dialects
posted on 30/09/2013

The United Arab Emirates teems with a gamut of spoken native dialects that are apparently spread geographically among the emirates making up the UAE; however it would not be out of the ordinary to hear more than one native dialect in the same township or city, according to Abdulaziz Al-Khaldi, Director of Cultural Affairs at the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information.
In a recently published book, "Index to Living Spoken Dialects", Al-Khaldi says that the major native dialects in the UAE fall into a number of geographical categories, namely the dialect spoken by the desert Bedouins (or Bedous), the one spoken by inhabitants along the coastline, the one spoken by dwellers of the mountainous regions, and the one spoken by those living in the eastern districts of the country.
These primary dialects are attributed in their provenance to tribes such as Al-Azd, Hemair, and Al-Tameem, he said, noting that shades of differences in the dialects surface as one travels from one emirate to another, although these shades are mostly superficial in nature.
The author explains that dialects affected by desert dwellers are prominently seen in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and some parts of Dubai, whereas urbanised and coastline dialects are more in evidence in Sharjah, Ajman, and Umm Al Qaiwain, as well as some sections of Dubai, he said, as he pointed out that UAE dialects have been affected over the years by population migrations into the UAE from such regions as Hejaz, Najd, and Al-Ahsa'a in Saudi Arabia.
UAE dialects have also been exposed to borrowings from a diversity of languages and dialects in the region, most notably English, Farsi, Urdu, and Baluchistan, said Al-Khaldi.
Researcher and writer in Arabic history and literature Ahmad Ebaid, basically echoing Al-Maliki, says that dialects in the UAE belong to two major groupings, one attributed to the tribe of Azd in Oman and the other to the tribe of Abdul Qais. The dialect of the first grouping can be detected in the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah, whereas the second can be heard in the coastal regions of the UAE.
Those whose dialect goes back to Abdul Qais tribe exist not only in the western coast of the UAE, but also along the coastlines of Kathma, in Kuwait and the coastlines of Qatar and Bahrain, he said.
Whether in the desert, the coastline, or the mountains, UAE dialects differ, slightly in some places, more in others, in what is a clear example of a tapestry of diversity and colour, he said. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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