Freej Al Tijarah area at the Festival includes an exhibition of traditional fabrics, textiles, and embroideries Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Visitors to the third Maritime Heritage Festival in Abu Dhabi can have an immersive experience of how Emirati society in the pre-oil era was shaped by the sea.

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Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi (DCT), the Festival, which ends on Sunday after its 11-day run, is being held at Ala Al Bahar on the Corniche. From fishing to pearl diving, the Festival unravels the traditional way of life of coastal communities. The event also offers workshops, cuisine and storytelling, all centred around the maritime heritage theme.

Collage of images related to the Festival supplied by DCT Image Credit: Supplied

A model coastal village has been set up, designed according to numerous studies conducted by a dedicated team. Speaking to Gulf News, Randa Omar bin Haider, director of the Department of Cultural Festivals and Platforms at DCT, said the artistic design of the heritage village relied on interviews with senior citizens to benefit from their experiences, information and memories about life in the bygone era.

The event allows its audience, both adults and children, to learn about fishing trips and pearl diving - which were central to livelihoods - through an operetta, including a song titled ‘Every Nahma is a Story’, in which more than 60 artists from the UAE and Gulf countries are participating.

Craftsmen’s Corner

The Maritime Heritage Festival focuses on preserving traditional crafts that represent the essence of local culture, through the Artisans Corner, which includes a number of traditional crafts, including talli, badals, burqas, dukhons, perfumes, and henna, as well as the making of bearings, oars, ropes, and sails.

Randa explained that the vocational education programme, which was organised during the Al Hosn Festival in January, continues during the Maritime Heritage Festival this year, as the students who participated in the Al Hosn Festival continue their journey to learn handicrafts at the hands of “the protectors of heritage”.

She pointed out that the Festival is seeing for the first time participation from the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, the Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi and SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, who are organising workshops for visitors of all ages in the Mahmal Exploration Area.

Meanwhile the Freej Al Tijarah area includes an exhibition of traditional fabrics, textiles, and embroideries that are famous in Abu Dhabi.

Emirati folk games and daily tournaments including ‘Arabana Al Yarid’, ‘Karabi’, ‘Al Matarha’, and ‘Taq Taq Taqiya’ continue to honour winners with prizes.