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Camel festival promises thrills

More than 2,000 camel owners have registered to take part in the Al Dhafra Camel Festival 2009 - with more than 24,000 camels expected to compete in the event.

  • More than 24,000 camels are expected to compete in the camel festival on Tuesday. Image Credit:Gulf News Archive
  • The festival includes a unique camel beauty competition called 'Mazayina'. Image Credit:Gulf News Archive
  • There would also be a camel auction and a Nabati poetry contest on camels. Image Credit:Gulf News Archive
  • Mohammad Hamad Bin Azzan Al Mazrouei, Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazrouei and Mohammad Mubarak Al Marar during a pressImage Credit:Ravindranath/Gulf News
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: More than 2,000 camel owners have registered to take part in the Al Dhafra Camel Festival 2009 - with more than 24,000 camels expected to compete in the event.

The festival has been scheduled for Tuesday in the western region.

"The fair has become, in record time, a stunning heritage carnival, not only for the heritage of the UAE, but also for the region as a whole," said Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Director General of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), who is also the Vice-President of the festival's organising committee.

The first carnival held last April attracted a record number of participants. Organisers say this year's event has been expanded with the number of participants doubled and competitions expanded.

"These figures tell the story of Al Dhafra Festival success," Al Mazrouei said, adding "the area used for the festival is dozens of square kilometres, located in the desert of the western region."

Beauty contest

The festival includes a unique camel beauty competition called 'Mazayina', a camel auction, competition on methods of packaging dates and a handicrafts market. Other attractions include best photographic contest and a Nabati poetry competition on camels.

"Mazayina competition has attracted more than 2000 camel owners, who will participate in the different competition categories with more than 24,000 camels," he said.

"The festival awards prizes in various competitions, amounting to more than Dh40 million, and more than 500 organisers and supporters will supervise the various competitions and activities of the festival," Al Mazrouei said.

The popular market with its distinctive buildings, which includes more than 150 shops for citizens aged between 16-66 years old will be central to the festival activities, as it aims to motivate young women to acquire traditional skills passed on to them by their mothers and grandmothers.

This is essentially for the purposes of preservation and conservation of culture for future generations.

"Camels, of course, are the focus of the festival, and among the main objectives of Al Dhafra 2009 is to preserve the inherent strains of Asayel (pedigree) and Majahim (dark-skinned) camels, to introduce nomadic culture and activate heritage tourism," said Al Mazrouei.

"We hope to put Al Dhafra area of the western region on the map of international tourism as an oasis for camel fans, in addition to creating a commercial market for buying and selling camels," said the event's vice-president, adding, "we also aim to highlight UAE handicrafts that reflect Bedouin heritage and stimulate poetic creativity.

All set : Logistics laid out

Madinat Zayed area in the western region has in the past few days witnessed large numbers of camels crossing the borders - from all GCC countries lead by their owners - to participate in the Al Dhafra Competition.

"Participants are coming from all over the GCC countries and the infrastructure for the festival is well laid out," Salim Al Mazrouei, director of operations and logistics at (Adach) told Gulf News.

And as the world's largest camel festival begins in Al Dhafra, security protection for the much awaited event is being discussed at the police directorate in the western region in Abu Dhabi.

The police will ensure round the clock help and assistance for the participants as well as tourists who come to witness one of the world's rare contests, the camel beauty pageant.