Even as the UAE is gearing up to celebrate the 41st anniversary of the Union, the 6th edition of the Emirates International Date Palm Festival is all set to begin at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, lasting nearly a week during November 26 ï¿½ December 1. The event promises to retain all the regulars that won popular appeal in the previous years, plus a few new additions.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), the festival will be organized by Turret Media in strategic partnership with the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and in association with Date Palm Friends Society.
The Higher Organizing Committee for the Festival revealed in a press conference today at Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) that 160 exhibitors from 18 countries will participate in the festival, in addition to national pavilions from seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia and Palestine. More than 90% of participants from last year will return to the festival this year, the organizers disclosed.
HE Rashid Mohamed Al Shariqi, Director General, ADFCA, has said the festival tells the story of the blessed tree that His Highness the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, so fondly tended to. The government led by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has followed in his footsteps and continued to extend patronage to all efforts aimed at promoting and nurturing the date palm."
"I would like to thankfully acknowledge the support of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, for the festival right from the beginning. The constant support of His Highness enabled the festival to grow from strength to strength every year and to rise in stature locally, regionally and globally. Due to the constant support of the leadership dates have assumed strategic importance as a healthy food commodity and gone on to win global recognition," he concluded.
Dr.Hilal Hamid Saed Al Kaabi, Board Member and Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the Study and Development of Date Palm and Dates, said:ï¿½We at the Date Palm Friends Society consider our participation in the Emirates International Date Palm Festival as a dynamic move toward achieving the goals of the Society. The goals of the society include laying down ambitious plans for developing dates cultivation and dates industry in the country, besides establishing cooperation with scientific and research-oriented organizations to promote the level of knowledge and experience in this sphere. All this is sure to serve date palm cultivation in terms of increase in numbers as well as productivity, besides protecting them from harmful pests, eventually leading to sustainability for this blessed tree. The festival is an opportunity to exchange and disseminate information and knowledge about date palm among research and farming organizations, besides learning from the experience of participating dates companies.ï¿½
Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa, Chairman of the Higher Organizing Committee for the Festival and ADFCA Official Spokesperson, said that the festival would include several new activities, besides those featured previously. "Features at this yearï¿½s date palm festival include Date Tasting Area, Date Index, Palm Tree Climbing Competition, Dates Cookery, Photo Gallery Competition, Date Tree Planting, Heritage Village, Date Palm Theatre, a Kids Area and amazing prizes. Visitors to the festival will have the chance to win up to 50 prizes in different categories and programs. The festival seeks to educate visitors on the UAE's rich history with palm trees and dates, as well as provide a platform for businesses to communicate and expand their network. We are thankful to the Date Palm Friends Society for their support in organizing this festival," he added.
The Emirates International Date Palm Festival will be held in conjunction with SIAL Middle East 2012, the regional edition of one of the world's largest food exhibitions, thereby providing UAE date companies with the platform to showcase their products to a much broader spectrum of visitors, traders, and industry groups.
"The festival also testifies to the massive diversification that the date's industry witnessed over the years. Apart from the 500 different kinds of dates from 18 countries on display at the festival, it also features a wide array of new products derived from dates that include perfumes, organic dates, date ice-cream and ladiesï¿½ accessories made from palm trees. The event is fun and education all rolled into one,ï¿½ Al Reyaysa explained.
One of the key features at this yearï¿½s festival is the Date Palm Theatre, in which students from schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the western region will entertain audiences throughout the week with plays, dances, competitions and fashion shows, whilst highlighting the regionï¿½s customs and traditions. This is organized in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Education Council.
After having a favorable response last year with over 400 saplings planted, the Date Tree Planting feature is set to return giving festival patrons a chance to be a part of history and contribute to enhancing the UAE environment. ADFCA has allocated a specific area in Abu Dhabi where the planted saplings will be nurtured into beautiful date palm trees for future generations to enjoy. Showcasing how Emiratis lived decades ago, parents and children can visit the Heritage Village to learn how the nationï¿½s ancestors lived. The main sponsors for the event are Al Dahra and Al Foah.