Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra Festival to go on till January

Strict precautionary measures will remain in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Thursday 05/11/2020
A 2019 file photo shows an Emirati child walking camels during the Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival in the desert near the city of Madinat Zayed, west of Abu Dhabi. (AFP)
A 2019 file photo shows an Emirati child walking camels during the Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival in the desert near the city of Madinat Zayed, west of Abu Dhabi. (AFP)

Abu Dhabi – The Abu Dhabi Cultural and Heritage Festivals and Programs Management Committee announced the launch of the 2020-2021 traditional hunting season in Al Marzoom Hunting Reserve in Al Dhafra region as part of Al Dhafra Festival, which will be held under strict precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The 14th session of the popular Al Dhafra Festival will run from November 5 to January 29, 2021 in Madinat Zayed to celebrate the country’s culture, heritage and identity.

A file picture shows Arabian Saluki dogs racing during the Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival in the desert near the city of Madinat Zayed. (AFP)
A file picture shows Arabian Saluki dogs racing during the Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival in the desert near the city of Madinat Zayed. (AFP)

Al Marzoom Hunting Reserve is one of the festival’s major contributors. It is helping organise the falcon beauty (Mazayna) contests that will take place December 24 at Madinat Zayed Falcons Square. It will be held alongside other similar heritage competitions, like the camel beauty competition, Arabian horse and Saluki dog races and a shooting competition.

According to a press release,  the local and maghaim categories, falconry, the Saluki and sheep beauty contest, the purebred Arabian horse race, the falconry competition, the 2500-meter Arabian heritage race championship, and an archery contest will be held within the schedule and dates of each category of two days at the end of each week.

Other events, however, including those related to the traditional souq, will be canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking about the precautionary measures in place at the festival, Eisa Saif Al Mazrouei, vice-chairman of the festival’s organising committee, said “this year’s festival will not organise the traditional souq and its associated events to ensure the health of the public,” noting that the “festival’s attendees are required to wear a face mask and gloves and respect social distancing guidelines; while festival staff, juries and participants must present a negative COVID-19 test.”

Mazrouei added that “at the heart of this year’s exceptional edition are the Mazayna (competition) camel beauty contests that focus on the purebred camels from the Asayel (pedigree) and Majaheem (dark-skinned) lineages, falconry contests, the 2,500 metre Arabian saluki race, purebred Arabian horse race, sheep beauty contest, and shooting competition,” WAM news agency quoted.

A file picture shows an Emirati falconer moving a lure to attract the falcon at the Liwa desert, west of Abu Dhabi, on the sidelines of the Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival. (AFP)
A file picture shows an Emirati falconer moving a lure to attract the falcon at the Liwa desert, west of Abu Dhabi, on the sidelines of the Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival. (AFP)

Abu Dhabi’s Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee aims to preserve Emirati, Gulf and Arab heritage and related customs by making the event the first regional and global forum for camel owners and by encouraging festival participants to produce and acquire the best purebred breeds. It also hopes to contribute to cultural tourism and stimulate economic activity in Al Dhafra region, promoting the gate of the Empty Quarter (The Rub’ al Khali) and attract heritage tourism enthusiasts from all over the world to see the cities of Al Dhafra.