File photo of a judge with some of the winning camels in the Majahim (blackskinned) category during the beauty competition at a past edition of Al Dhafrah Festival Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News archives

Abu Dhabi: Featuring camel beauty contests, traditional Emirati sports such as falconry and much more, the 17th edition of Al Dhafra Festival is set to take place from October 21, 2023 to February 8, 2024 in Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi emirate.

The Festival is held under the patronage of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi in cooperation with Emirates Heritage Club.

The festival comes as a continuation of the efforts of Sheikh Mohamed 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.

The festival highlights the role of camels in the culture and heritage of the UAE and the GCC countries through camel ‘mazayna’ or beauty competitions held in Abu Dhabi for purebred breeds.

Biggest edition

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

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.

Traditional shows and sports

The festival will also feature 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 will also comprise a shooting competition, Al Naim sheep beauty pageant, date packaging competition, sour milk contest, and camel sitting competition, in addition to a traditional market and desert camps.