The judging commit tee evaluates camels by common standards between camel experts and owners. Each camel is given a degree out of 100 or what is known as a point system, as follows: Image Credit: Guillermo Munro,Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: If you have ever wanted to know more about Emirati traditions and heritage, then the Al Dhafrah Festival, organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), is the perfect solution.

Whether you are going with family or friends, the annual festival, located in the Western Region and held 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, is guaranteed to have something for everyone.

Ever since its inauguration in 2007, the festival has continued to expand and this year will see the largest participation in the camel beauty competition, or Mazayna, where 28,000 camels and 1,200 owners will compete for grand prizes with a total value of Dh42 million.


"We would like to thank His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan President of the UAE, Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's representative in the Western Region, for their continuing support and their efforts to enhance the Al Dhafrah Festival 2010 from all areas," Salim Ebrahim Al Mazroui, Director, Al Dhafrah Festival, told Gulf News.

As a result of a large number of participants this year, some competitions, such as Al Hallab, or camel milking competition, took place before the official start of the festival on Saturday.

"We had requested camel owners, and they were gracious enough to agree, to participate in Al Hallab before the festival begins in order to reduce the pressure for those participating in other competitions, and also to reduce traffic caused by transporting the camels," Al Mazroui said. The winning camel was from the UAE called Al Ko'ud, whose owner won a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Additional features have also been added to the line up of fun events, including a Children's Village where young ones can learn skills such as how to ride a camel, and even how to milk one!

Cooking contest

"This year there will also be a cooking competition in addition to the others. The aim of the competition is for chefs to show us just how creative they can be using local ingredients, such as camel meat," Al Mazroui said. "The prize money for this competition is Dh57,000," he added.

The festival director also noted that the number of visitors is expected to reach approximately 6,000 a day due to a wide variety of activities that are being offered.

Al Mazroui said the high participation of camels — 28,000 — in the contest was not surprising as camels are a part of the Emirati heritage.

"There are many beautiful camels that have been entered this year... there are many regulations that we had put in place this year in order to make sure that only the best participate in the Mazayna competition," he explained.


Timings: 8am-2amRegistration: Entrance is free for everyone.
Location: Zayed City in the Western RegionContact: Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage:

  • Tel: +971 2 621 5300
  • Email: info@aldhafrafestival.com
  • Website: http://aldhafrafestival.ae/en/index.php

 Are you planning to visit the camel festival? Do you think such festivals help visitors better understand UAE’s heritage? What else would you like to know about UAE’s culture?