Abu Dhabi: The Shaikh Zayed Heritage Festival, which opened to public on Friday, and will coincide with the Year of Zayed in 2018, showcases the local and global legacy of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Thousands of visitors from all walks of life embarked on an immersive, interactive experience of performances and events at various pavilions.
Families and children flocked to Al Wathba, 50 kilometres from the Abu Dhabi city, to enjoy the festivities that highlight the role of Shaikh Zayed in preserving the country’s traditions.
Emirati Rashid Abdullah Al Alili, 48, came with his family members. “This festival is close to our hearts as it takes us back into history and shows the difficulties our forefathers faced to build the country brick by brick. So we need to preserve it.”
Abdullah Rashid, 11, Al Alili’s son, said: “I like this festival as it tells me about Baba Zayed’s struggle to provide us with a better life. He was a true warrior who fought all odds and loved all people.”
“He not only helped us but helped other countries too, he said.
More than 20 interactive exhibitions, 24 cultural districts, 60 traditional cafes and cuisines from different countries and 500 shops with products from around the world, are part of the festival.
Emirati Ali Al Ali explained to visitors how pearl diving thrived in the past using sail boats.
“A team of 10 to 40 people travelled as per length of the boat and dived for pearls,” he said. “People should know about the history [of the UAE},” Ali said.
Mazna Al Mansouri, 40, Emirati, demonstrates the Emirati craft of wool weaving. “We used to get wool from sheep and then make clothes, bags and saddle covers for sitting on camels. This is called Al Sadou [wool weaving],” she informed.
Under the patronage of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the festival is held under the guidance of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The Shaikh Zayed Heritage Festival will run until January 27, and is open daily from 4pm to mid night.