Salting fish preserves the food so it can be eaten later. The practice is part of the maritime culture of the UAE. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Salting fish the traditional way, know as Al Maleh, is part of the culture of coastal communities of the UAE. It is less commonly seen now as the country transformed and utilised modern technology based alternatives to preserve and flavour the catch of the day.

However, a festival in the emirate of Sharjah aims to revive both the heritage and commerce associated with Al Maleh.

The upcoming Al Maleh and Fishing Festival, is set to begin its tenth edition from August 31 to September 3 in Dibba Al Hisn city. Open to the public daily from 4pm to 10pm, the event features marine heritage displays, competitions, and a unique marketplace for salty products of every kind.

Festival goers will be transported back in time to see how daily life was intertwined with the sea Image Credit: Supplied

The festival is organised by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and the Municipality of Dibba Al Hisn.

The event will witness extensive participation from public, private sector enterprises, specialised Al Maleh product retailers, and local families working in this age-old industry.

Attendees will also enjoy heritage activities and programmes that pay homage to Al Maleh and fishing industries. The festival’s agenda includes educational workshops on traditional crafts like Al Maleh creation, salting, canning, and more. Additionally, there will be platforms showcasing traditional foods and heritage performances.

Tribute to maritime traditions

Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, chairman of the SCCI, said: “Our enduring commitment to organising Al Maleh and Fishing Festival symbolises more than just an event; it’s our tribute to the UAE’s rich maritime traditions, especially in Sharjah. By celebrating these age-old maritime crafts, we not only honour our past but also champion their relevance and ensure their continuity for future generations. It’s imperative for us to bolster the companies and families who are custodians of these precious heritage professions.”

Mohammad Ahmed Amin Al Awadi, director-general of SCCI, said: “In cooperation with Dibba Al Hisn City Municipality and all our partners, each edition of the festival has achieved notable milestones. This year, we’re committed to upholding and enhancing this legacy by delivering an exceptional experience for both visitors and participants.”

Taleb Al Yahyai, director of Dibba Al Hisn Municipality, said: “Al Maleh and Fishing Festival is more than just a cultural or economic event. It’s a window into the Al Maleh industry, a testament to our rich culture, and a cornerstone for fostering collaboration. Think of it as a school where knowledge is shared, a theatre of joy and celebration, and a beacon reflecting the honour of our ancestors, the dynamism of today, and the promise of a luminous, sustainable future.”