UAE celebrates Liwa Dates Festival in Abu Dhabi

The United Arab Emirates is celebrating the Liwa Dates Festival focusing on 'ratab' or half ripen dates in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.

The half ripen dates are a great part of the country's heritage and has been appreciated for centuries. The annual festival dedicated to it is being organised in Liwa in Abu Dhabi. The Liwa Dates Festival is in its 12th year now and is organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee. The festival has been organised from 20 to 30 July, 2016 to celebrate the ratab harvest that happens in July-August period in the UAE. Organisers said that around 220 prizes worth Dh6 million are awarded to winners for various agricultural and art competitions at the competition.

Staff Major-General Pilot FarisKhalaf Al Mazrouei, chairman of the committee, said, "This year we meet again in Liwa, the gate of the Empty Quarter and the oasis of palm trees. We meet to celebrate an event that is closely linked to our authentic heritage, which we seek to revive and promote both on local and regional levels."

Organisers said 60,000 to 70,000 people from across the country and other nations are expected to visit the festival this year. A massive 20,000 square-metre air-conditioned tent has been set up with a traditional souk with about 150 shops run by Emirati women offering handicrafts and there is also a ratab market with fresh dates from local farmers.