Emirati artist Huda Al Riyami from Al Ain with her paintings at the Heritage pavilion in Liwa Date Festival. Image Credit: ABDUL RAHMAN/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The 2010 Liwa Date Festival is a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.

Among the stands that this year have been selling dates and handicrafts, or showcasing the work of government and private organisations in the Western Region, visitors have been enjoying displays of works by local artists.

The Liwa Date Festival, which is in its sixth year, is 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).

Huda Al Riyami, an Emirati artist from Al Ain, said this was the first time she had taken part in the Liwa Date Festival.

"But I have exhibited my works in many others over the years, such as the Al Dhafrah Festival 2010," Huda said.

"I've loved drawing and painting since I was six years old. I was lucky that my family supported me....but my father insisted that I make mistakes and learn from them so that I can become better.

"My favourite medium is to use oil paints … but I also use other materials. For my next exhibition, I plan on showing works created only with charcoal."

City of art

But the artist said while the government of Abu Dhabi was making great strides in turning the city into the "Capital of Art", there was still much work to be done.

"In Al Ain, the only time anything related to art is shown or organised is during special occasions," Huda said. "We have many youngsters who want to try out different things but we don't have a cultural foundation or even a youth centre where they could go and direct their energy and passion."

Huda said she had shown her works in exhibitions and completed commissioned pieces for organisations including the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.

Some of her paintings are now part of the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation's permanent collection.

"I am very proud of everything that I have achieved so far," she said.

"I am lucky to have had many people who supported and believed in me and were patrons of my exhibitions … If an artist wants to set up an exhibition personally, it may cost around Dh30,000, which is not something everyone can afford," she said.

"But I'm not letting such obstacles stop me."

At a glance

  • What: Liwa Date Festival
  • When: Saturday, July 17 - Monday, July 26
  • Time: 10am - 10pm
  • Travel: Buses leave from Abu Dhabi Mall and Marina Mall at 9am. There are no other scheduled buses.
  • Information: For schedules and further information, please contact 02-6576094 or visit www.liwadatesfestival.ae or http://www.adach.ae/en/

For families: Children's activities

Children at the Liwa Date Festival 2010 have been given a special section in the Traditional Souq where they can enjoy various rides and games.

They will also be able to take part in competitions, including tug-of-war and quizzes, and have the chance to win prizes.

In addition, throughout the festival, volunteers will be giving out coloured pencils and books to children which include information about dates and their importance in Emirati culture.