Abdulla Al Matroushi with a traditional dagger during the opening of the 16th Edition of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Young Emiratis are showing keen interest in wearing a traditional dagger thanks to a social media campaign launched by the authorities, a senior official told Gulf News.

“You might have come across old Emiratis wearing this dagger. I am sure now you will see young Emiratis wearing it on special occasions,” said Abdulla Al Matroushi, an official spokesman of the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi.

He said the dagger is an integral part of Emirati tradition and culture and the late Shaikh Zayed used to wear it almost all the time.

“You can see the dagger in most of his pictures,” Al Matroushi said, pointing at such pictures at the committee’s pavilion in the Abu Dhabi Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex) in the capital.

Abdulla Al Matroushi, an official spokesman of the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee- Abu Dhabi, is showing an Emirati dagger.

“We are promoting it as part of Year of Zayed. The Late Shaikh Zayed was very keen about Emirati tradition and heritage. He always inspired Emiratis to preserve and practice our customs,” he explained.

He quoted Shaikh Zayed’s famous words “A nation without a past is a nation without a present or a future.”

Following this saying, the committee has launched campaign named ‘Alhamny Zayed’ (Zayed inspired me) that promotes the founding father’s vision, values and practices.

The dagger is being promoted as part of this campaign and the hashtag #Alhamny_Zayed has found traction among young Emiratis.

“Shaikh Zayed is an inspirational figure to all Emiratis, especially youngsters. The youngsters notice anything related to Shaikh Zayed. That’s why they have shown their interest in the dagger and started sharing the related posts [as part of #Alhamny_Zayed] on social media,” Al Matroushi explained.

The campaign urges young Emiratis to wear the dagger at least on special occasions and many of them have responded positively on social media, he said.

Cultural symbol

In old days of life in the desert, people used to carry the dagger for self-defence and later it became a cultural symbol.

“Emirati dagger is quite different from the one used by other Gulf nationals,” Al Matroushi said.

Emirati daggers on display.

Many Emiratis cannot identify that difference, that is why the campaign promotes the unique features of Emirati dagger.

The campaign will create a demand for the dagger in the market.

“We are working on that aspect as well to ensure that Emirati daggers will be available in the market,” the official said. “There are Emiratis who create beautiful handmade daggers. Some daggers cost around Dh150,000 and more,” he said.

The committee encourages training more people in dagger making, the official said.

The promotion of a cultural element will create more employment opportunities as well, he said.

The year 2018 marks 100 years since the birth of the late founding father Shaikh Zayed.

The ‘Year of Zayed’ highlights the role of the late leader in establishing the UAE Federation, and his local, regional and international achievements. While announcing 2018 as the ‘Year of Zayed’, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan had said that Shaikh Zayed’s real wealth was not in materialism, but in his investment in the men and women who build the future of their nation.

“Therefore, we are a nation determined to follow in his footsteps, empowering Emirati people in all fields to contribute to their country’s comprehensive and sustainable development,” Shaikh Khalifa said.