As well as focusing on the various types of dates available, the festival also raised the profile of new date products and highlighted Emirati culture. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Western Region: More than 70,000 people visited the 10-day long annual Liwa Date Festival, which concluded on Thursday, a senior official said.

"While we haven't received the expected target of 80,000 visitors during this year's festival, the number of international visitors exceeded our expectations and this shows that the festival's profile is successfully increasing outside the UAE, which provides us not only with the opportunity to highlight our culture and heritage, but also has led to several business partnerships," Obaid Al Mazroui, the festival's director, said

The festival was held under the patronage of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH).

Spread over 20,000 metres within air-conditioned tents, this year saw more than 360 stands not only present various traditional and innovative products but also raise awareness about their organisations.


"This year, sales worth over Dh2.5 million from both the traditional souq and at various stands located throughout the festival area were recorded. As with previous editions, the organising committee also purchased 4,000 baskets of dates that were then provided as gifts," Al Mazroui said.

More than 3,600 farmers registered for the ever-popular date beauty competition. Also, two contests for the best mangoes and lemons provided a new twist to the competition line-up.

"We were very pleased with the overwhelming turnout and quality of entries at this year's date competitions," Al Mazroui said.

Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Chancellor of the UAE University and President of the Board of Trustees of the Khalifa International Date Palm Award, also donated 10,000 palm seedlings in a show of support to the festival that were distributed to farmers and visitors.

"Every year, we are fortunate to receive such generous gestures of support from the government, which not only highlight its commitment to supporting farmers but also encourages them to continue enhancing their farms. This was evident with the successful introduction of three new varieties of male palms; Al Fard, Al Bouair and Gharfis," Al Mazroui said.

However, even as this festival concludes, its director is already turning his attention to the launch of the first Liwa/Ajman Date Festival from July 27-29, which will take place under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman.