Abu Dhabi’s popular heritage festival to kick off next month

The annual festival’s most celebrated competitions, such as camel beauty contests, will go on as usual, but its traditional souq and other activities will be put on hold as organisers seek to prevent large crowds.
Monday 28/09/2020
The festival events include camel, falcon and goat beauty contests. (credit)
The festival events include camel, falcon and goat beauty contests. (credit)

Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi will host a local heritage festival next month, with safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The popular Al Dhafra Festival will run from November 5 to January 29, 2021, in Madinat Zayed – some 160km south-west of Abu Dhabi city.

Visitors can also look forward to the purebred Arabian horse race. (credit)
Visitors can also look forward to the purebred Arabian horse race. (credit)

The annual festival’s most celebrated competitions, such as camel beauty contests, will go on as usual, but its traditional souq and other activities will be put on hold as organisers seek to prevent large crowds.

Visitors can still look forward to a range of camel beauty contests, including categories for purebred camels from the Asayel (pedigree) and Majaheem (dark-skinned) lineages.

Last year, a staggering 2,500 camel beauty queens took part in the festival’s competitions, vying for DH52 million ($14.16 million) in pageantry prize awards.

Camel beauty contest is part of Al Dhafra Festival. (credit)
Camel beauty contest is part of Al Dhafra Festival. (credit)

Falconry contests will also be held this year, as well as the 2.5-kilometre Arabian saluki race, purebred Arabian horse race, sheep beauty contest and shooting competition.

Eisa Al Mazrouei, vice-chairman of the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee, said the festival is designed to showcase the UAE’s traditions and handicrafts, and emphasised that strict health precautions would be taken to ensure all guests’ safety.

The camel beauty competition (Mazayna) contests that focus on purebred camels from the Asayel (pedigree) and Majaheem (dark-skinned). (credit)
The camel beauty competition (Mazayna) contests that focus on purebred camels from the Asayel (pedigree) and Majaheem (dark-skinned). (credit)

He said race tracks and competition sites would be sanitised daily while festival staff, juries and participants would be required to show a negative COVID-19 test to take part.

All attendees will also be required to wear a face mask and gloves and respect social distancing guidelines.

– Eisa Al Mazrouei, vice-chairman of the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee. (credit)
Eisa Al Mazrouei, vice-chairman of the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee. (credit)

The festival, in it’s 14th year, is held under the patronage of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

It is not the first festival in the capital to be reorganised because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The festival programme includes Saluki dogs races. (credit)
The festival programme includes Saluki dogs races. (credit)

In July, the 16th Liwa Date Festival was held without spectators and adopted a drive-through format.

The events include camel, falcon and goat beauty contests. (credit)

Contestants competing to win Dh8 million prize ($2.45 million) in prize money were asked to drive to the festival premises and deliver their entries from their vehicles.