Abu Dhabi: The second edition of the Lulu date festival kicked off yesterday, setting the mood for Ramadan.
Organised by the Lulu hypermarkets chain in association with the Ministry of Environment and Water, the 10-day-long festival presents over 100 varieties of dates for Ramadan shoppers to savour.
"Initiatives such as this one will go a long way in supporting and encouraging local farmers as a majority of the dates are homegrown," Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, the Minister of Environment and Water said yesterday. He was speaking after inaugurating the festival at Al Khalidiya mall.
As part of the government's efforts to safeguard the interests of farmers, the ministry will market about 150 tonnes of dates during this year's season, through different cooperative societies and stores like the Lulu hypermarket, the minister said. The marketing season for dates begins in July and ends in November.
The festival showcases more than hundred varieties of dates from around the world as well as from farms in the UAE, said Yousuf Ali M.A., Managing Director of Lulu.
"This is one of our most prestigious promotions, as we are committed to promoting UAE farmers and their products," he said.
Engineer Abdullah Salem Gana'an, executive director of agricultural and livestock department at the ministry said: "The concept behind the date festival is in line with the government's agricultural and food security policy."
Entry submitted: ‘Largest' artificial date
The Emirati poet, Hamad Sarhan Al Darie, and his friend, Salem Rebhi Al Silawi, have submitted an entry to the Guinness World Records for "the largest artificial date in the world".
Al Darie and Al Silawi, who are based in Abu Dhabi, have completed the design and installation of what they hope is the largest artificial date in the world. They recently received preliminary approval for the project after submitting the artificial date's specifications to the Guinness World Records' Organising Committee.
Al Darie said: "The idea to design the largest artificial date in the world, and possibly get Abu Dhabi mentioned in the Guinness World Records, was inspired by the historical and ongoing importance of the real date fruit in the UAE and Gulf region, not only as a source of food, but as a vital part of the region's customs, traditions and social values."
The artificial date, which took seven months to complete at a cost of Dh1.7million, is 10.5 metres wide, 6 metres tall and 5 metres in depth.