NAT Khor Fakkan154-1617018689497
A performance at the Sharjah Heritage Days at Khorfakkan. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Sharjah Heritage Days (SHD) witnessed a ‘remarkable turnout’ of attendees on its second day, Monday, in Khorfakkan’s Heritage Area, organisers said. SHD is mainly being held in Sharjah City’s Heart of Sharjah historic district till April 10.

In Khorfakkan, the 18th edition of SHD began with artistic performances and folk dances of Al Ayyala art, presented by the Dibba War Band. In addition, traditional competitions were held at SHD Theatre in Khorfakkan, presented by Ayman Ali Salem, aimed at spreading heritage and cultural awareness.

Educating the public

Dr Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, chairman of Sharjah Institute for Heritage and chairman of the higher committee of SHD, said, “Khorfakkan continues its activities for the [SHD] festival, and has witnessed an encouraging response and attendance from the emirate’s citizens and residents of all nationalities. The second day of activities was distinguished by the momentum it brought, with a variety of activities from songs, folk dances, heritage competitions, exhibitions and workshops, and the beauty and splendour of the traditional ‘Haq Al Lailah’ celebration. [SHD] has a lot to offer in educating the public on the culture and heritage of Sharjah.”

‘Inspired among us’

A cultural symposium, as part of the activities of SHD, was organised at the Youth House in the Heritage Area, under the slogan ‘Inspired Among Us’ and entitled ‘Cultural Heritage in the United Arab Emirates’. Speaking at the theatre was Dr Rashid Khamis Al Naqbi, chairman of the Khorfakkan Municipal Council; Fawzia Rashid Al Qadi, director of Khorfakkan Municipality, and Fatima Al Mughni, a former member of the Consultative Council of Sharjah, and social researcher and expert in folklore.

Reviving the past

Al Naqbi talked about the ancient folk games that were famous in Khorfakkan, stressing that the popular games must be revived. He highlighted the importance of educating the new generation on the region’s history and learning from the past. Al Qadi spoke about the popular terminology and phrases that no longer exist in language, and have been omitted due to social media, soap operas, and other influencing factors. Al Mughni talked about the mechanisms of heritage culture in the UAE, and the role of women and men and their support for each other in establishing customs and traditions in the Emirati family.

“Our presence here in this symposium situated in the Heritage Area of Khorfakkan is a testament to the importance of embracing our heritage. Five years ago, this place was nothing but reminiscent of the memories of people, but today and after this reconstruction, there is an increased interest in heritage, which attracts tourists and visitors,” Al Mughni added.

‘Haq Al Laila’ celebrated

SIH celebrated the tradition of ‘Haq Al Lailah’, which sees the distribution of gifts to children, such as Emirati food and sweets, at SHD in Khorfakkan. Traditionally, it is celebrated on the night of the 15th of Shaban, the Islamic month that precedes Ramadan.

Khaled Ahmad Obaid Al Shehhi, director of SIH’s Khorfakkan branch, said: “We are keen to revive the celebration of this occasion as an old custom that has a special place in the hearts of Khorfakkan’s people, and all the people in the emirates. It brings back memories of childhood which cannot be replaced, and must be celebrated and passed on to our children and grandchildren.”

Supports cottage industry

The Social Services Department is participating in SHD and displaying many handicrafts made from horse fronds, perfumes, and incense. The exhibition also includes industrial workshops for handicrafts from palm fronds.

Sharjah Parents Council

The corner of the Student Parents Council in the Heritage Area of attracted students and parents, with students participating to review the ancient past of education in Khorfakkan. Old pictures of schools and students were displayed, and the corner also included a free studio for children with workshops teaching them to draw and read from various traditional books.