Abu Dhabi: The Heritage Village at the Sheikh Zayed Festival, currently being held at Al Wathba in Abu Dhabi until March 9, 2024, promotes the preservation of authentic Emirati heritage and aims to pass it on to future generations with pride.
The traditions of the UAE society is depicted in four different environments such as mountain, agriculture, marine and desert in an entertaining cultural setting.
The sections of the Heritage Village, located at the heart of the festival, highlight the UAE’s civilisation through a journey to the past, which highlights the authentic heritage for visitors to learn about the inherited traditions from ancient lifestyle.
Visitors -- among them citizens, residents, and tourists -- from around the world are able to walk through a heritage experience where they can stop in front of demonstrations with vivid and realistic scenes in the village.
Open until 1am during weekends and public holidays
The Heritage Village dazzles visitors to the Sheikh Zayed Festival with realistic demonstrative scenes of the old Emirati lifestyle by a group of individuals wearing authentic heritage costumes related to each Emirati environment to introduce the public to different settings. Visitors can immerse themselves in the marine environment by observing fishing methods and equipment used for diving that were used by ancestors in the past.
The marine environment also introduces visitors and future Emirati generations to the customs and traditions of seafarers and people who worked at the sea, in addition to the types of ancient marine boats, including the types of lekh and crafts belonging to the people of the marine village.
The exhibit representing the “Zafana Al-Daan” craft in the agricultural environment attracts the attention of visitors to the Festival who are interested to learn about the professions that their older parents and grandparents grew up with and faced challenging times to build a civilisation. A group of craftsmen will demonstrate to the audience an introduction to that profession, starting from collecting palm fronds, cutting and cleaning them, and preparing ropes to use them for manufacturing houses, tents and others. In addition to these, various demonstrations will be presented that are related to the agricultural environment such as various cultivation methods and tools that were used in agriculture.
Children will be able to spend time with their families on the exhibit that depicts the mountain environment of the UAE. The mock-up represents valuable meanings for ancestors, such as “Al-Saqai”, who roamed the roads and called on everyone to distribute water, and “Al-Khararif”, which was a means of education at a time when there were no formal schools or modern means of entertainment. It was a way for children to gain knowledge and entertain them by communicating information in a narrative and easy manner. Visitors are able to listen in an informative setting with folk tales.
Visitors to the Heritage Village are able to re-live an experience to the past through descriptive scenes that teach about all aspects of desert life, including the types of sand, tools, industries, houses, mountains, in addition to introducing the authentic Emirati wedding customs — from asking for the bride’s hand until the groom brings her to his home.
This season, the Heritage Village is characterised by a unique design inspired by the nostalgic traditional lifestyle. It is an exceptional exhibit that transports visitors from the hustle and bustle of modern life to the tranquillity and simplicity of ancient life represented by mud houses, homes made of palm fronds, heritage competitions, folk arts, and products.
The Heritage Village has various sections who welcome a large number of visitors, especially tourists from different countries who are enthusiastic to watch the handicrafts of artisan men and women demonstrating their products. Visitors are also able to listen to the full description of the nature of each of the environments and their various crafts and products, such as pottery, sadu, burqa loan, sewing, spinning and weaving.
The tilli industry attracts dozens of visitors daily to watch how these traditional crafts are created by craftsmen’s ingenuity, which represents the ancient history of the UAE.
The Heritage Village
The Heritage Village includes pavilions and shops to display traditional Emirati products, and is staffed by craftsmen who can provide information about their creations to visitors of all ages and nationalities. The Village provides various workshops to anyone interested to embrace the ancient history of the UAE such as pottery, palm fronds, talli, sadu, sewing, henna painting and more.
For those who want a taste of the past, they can enjoy traditional Emirati food at the “Heritage Tent Restaurant”, which is decorated by UAE designs that reflect the past.
The restaurant offers delicious food and offers traditional coffee at the “Popular Coffee Corner”. The corner offers ancient tools, authentic customs in coffee drinking and demonstrates how it is prepared, offered and shared in the past. Visitors can also sit in a hut made of palm fronds, “Markh” trees and branches of Samar and Ghaf trees, which was a place for sharing authentic stories and memories of ancestors.
Many participating institutions and government entities related to the preservation of the Emirati heritage and passing it down to future generations can be found at the Heritage Village. Such entities are small to medium industries that create handicrafts through spinning and weaving with various wool materials to make rugs, mats, talli, sadu, wool products.
Visitors to the Village can enjoy learning about different falcons and hunting methods. The Arabian Saluki Center presents different types of Saluki with the aim of reviving the sport of hunting with greyhounds, preserving their traditions, using them in falconry, preserving purebreds, and providing those interested with the necessary knowledge of how to care for and train them.
Visitors can conclude their journey by taking memorable photos in traditional Emirati clothes for men and women, in addition to passing by the grocery store (an old traditional shop), which sells different kinds of old foodstuffs that bring buyers back to the old days, and other heritage products.
The Sheikh Zayed Festival welcomes visitors daily from 4pm to 12am on weekdays and until 1am during weekends and public holidays, giving them the opportunity to spend precious time with family and friends outdoors with a wide range of events, activities and competitions that suit all age groups.