Abu Dhabi: The final stage of the 17th edition of the Al Dhafra Festival, featuring the UAE’s top camel breeds, is set to kick off from January 20 to February 8, 2024.

Organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festival Committee in collaboration with the Emirates Heritage Club, the concluding round will distribute prizes among various camel breeds in six age groups. The Organising Committee has allocated prizes to be distributed among asayel, majaheem, and asayel hybrid camel breeds within six age groups – mafarid, hagayeg, lagaya, eydha, thanaya, and hool.

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The festival has four phases of camel mazayna (beauty competitions): Sweihan, Razeen, Madinat Zayed, and the concluding Al Dhafra Festival. These phases feature a total of 361 rounds of competitions for various camel breeds, including asayel, majaheem, asayel hybrids, and wadh.

The first stage in Sweihan welcomed more than 1,800 camel owners from across the GCC, who took part in 76 camel contests with a total prize pool of more than Dh11 million.

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Supporting heritage

The festival comes as a continuation of the efforts of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to support heritage preservation projects, promote and develop heritage festivals, enable camel owners to sustain the practice of breeding and caring for camels, and support falconry and purebred Arabian horses contests and other heritage competitions.

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The festival highlights the role of camels in the culture and heritage of the UAE and the GCC countries through camel mazayna competitions held in Abu Dhabi.

The 17th edition of Al Dhafra Festival is the largest since its inception in 2008, with organising committee assigning a total of 361 rounds for all the participating camel breeds - an increase of 35 rounds compared to the previous edition.

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Diverse aims

Al Dhafra Festival aims to unify the standards, terms and conditions, and intensify efforts to achieve success in the mazayna competitions, expand participation of camel owners in the competitions, preserve the purebred camel breeds, boost camel trade, contribute to the development of domestic and Gulf tourism and spur economic activity.

The festival also aims to shed light on the region and strengthen the status of Abu Dhabi as the leading destination for camel mazaynas and a regional and global platform for heritage events.

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It also seeks to highlight and revive the Emirati and Arab heritage through camel beauty competitions, convey UAE’s civilisational and humanitarian message to the world, and promote the values of loyalty and belonging.

Traditional sports

The festival also features various accompanying heritage competitions and events including falconry competition, camel milking competitions, Arabian horse race, traditional Arabian saluki race, falcon beauty pageant and a Arabian saluki beauty contest.

The event also comprises a shooting competition, Al Naim sheep beauty pageant, date mazayna and packaging competition, sour milk contest, and camel sitting competition, in addition to a traditional market and desert camps, which all reflect the passion of the people of UAE and the Gulf region for such features of their heritage.