Cyril Samuel took this picture of dates hanging from a palm tree in Sharjah. Image Credit: Cyril Samuel

Abu Dhabi: A scientist who has derived a colourless liquid sugar from dates, which is used as healthy sugar content in several food products, is among the eight winners of the latest Khalifa International Date Palm Award.

The officials announced eight winners from eight nations in five categories, who were selected from 102 candidates from 22 nations.

The technology for the industrial production of liquid sugar from Zahdi dates, developed by Dr Moayyad Mohammad Rushdy Al Hakim from Iraq, won the first prize for the best technology.

The liquid sugar from dates is good for children and used in food products for them, a senior official told Gulf News on the sidelines of a press conference to announce the awards.

“It is already produced in the UAE at a factory in Jebel Ali in Dubai,” Dr Hasna Shabna, a date palm expert in the scientific committee of the award, said.

In reply to further questions about the winning projects, related products and technology, as well as their practical impacts on date farming and industry, the officials said such details will be given later.

A solar date dryer developed by Mohammad Ali Basunia at the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences in Sultan Qaboos University in Oman won the second prize for the best technology.

Al Foah, a UAE company, won the first prize in the best developmental project for their integrated date collection, handling and storage system.

“Their computerised collection system is very convenient for date farmers,” Dr Shabna said. The efforts to teach farmers to use every part of the date palm, including the leaves, won second prize in this category for Engineer Emad Idris Fadel Al Mawla of the Sudanese Date Palm Society in Sudan, he said.

The sixth edition of the annual award highlighted the UAE’s efforts to preserve the date palm tree, that is known as the blessed tree, and those who work in this sector all over the world, Dr Abdul Waheeb Zaid, Secretary-General of the Board of Trustees of the Khalifa International Date Palm Award, said at a press conference on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

On behalf of Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Award, the officials appreciated the support for the award from the UAE’s leadership.

The awards will be distributed at a ceremony at Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi on March 16. The first prize winners will receive a cash prize of Dh300,000 and second prize winners Dh2,000,000 along with a shield and an appreciation certificate.

Dr Galeb Al Hadrami, member of the Board of Trustees, and Dr Hilal Humaid Al Ka’abi, Head of the Administrative and Scientific Department of the Award, were also present at the press conference.