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Al Dhafra Heritage Souk transports visitors to times gone by

Al Dhafra Heritage Souk transports visitors to times gone by
25 Jan 2024 10:03

IHAB AL RAFAI (AL DHAFRA)

Al Dhafra Heritage Souk, part of Al Dhafra Festival, stands as a distinctive symbol for history enthusists and those interested in the ancient customs and traditions of the region’s rich past. The souk takes visitors on a journey through ancient time and place, showcasing authentic heritage, creative expressions, and the customs and traditions of the UAE’s past.

“Shab Al Nar” (embers), majlis gatherings, traditional Arabic coffee pots, and heritage shops creatively designed to reflect ancient times create an immersive experience for visitors. Additionally, the heritage corner, filled with women presenting their handcrafted products, serves as an educational institution, attracting thousands of local and international culture enthusiasts.

The souk’s organising committee ensures that a variety of products reflecting authentic Emirati heritage are on offer through the market’s 167 family-run stalls. In the stalls, visitors can check out various handcrafted products, such as perfumes, incense, traditional pieces, heritage crafts, and women’s accessories. Additionally, a dedicated section in the souk offers popular Emirati foods.

The diverse shopping experience allows visitors to discover essential traditional crafts produced by grandmothers and mothers who have passed down their expertise from generation to generation. Handmade products, such as Emirati veils, scented chimneys emitting fragrances, and coffee and tea utensils handcrafted to reflect the country’s heritage, are among these generational crafts.

Other shops showcase different handicrafts in action, such as dallah (coffee pot) making, sword and dagger crafting, and pottery, with Emirati women presenting ancient industries, including spinning, veil making, and incense production.

The souk, a vibrant market, showcases a fusion of historic craftsmanship and contemporary allure through shops specialising in perfumery, offering scents like incense and essences. These beauty essentials are crafted safely using natural products that blend ancient and modern ingredients into a liquid perfume.

The festival also encourages youth to connect with their heritage through various activities and events. This includes competitions, like the traditional sour milk contest, highlighting its cultural and nutritional importance in Emirati life, particularly for Al Dhafra. Another competition involves decorating dates, a staple food for mainland inhabitants.

At Al Dhafra competition, 329 camel pairs competed in the “Shoat Al Laqaya” race. This event attracted prominent camel breeders from the Gulf, competing in 11 categories. The “Shoat Al Sharaka” and “Shoat Tladd” categories for tribal sons saw the highest participation with 48 pairs each. Other categories followed closely in participation numbers.

Al Dhafra Camel Auction’s organising committee has established strict rules for camel trading, crucial for competition eligibility. Ownership transfer rules are stringent; a sold camel cannot return to its previous owner or their close relatives for three years. Violating these rules leads to a two-year festival ban. The sale process includes recording the chip number and DNA sampling, and fines must be cleared before transferring ownership of disputed camels.

Participants must follow specific regulations, including adhering to entry times, displaying good conduct, and respecting committee decisions. Only camels with auction chips and registered participants with cards are eligible for competition rounds to ensure the integrity of the festival.

Source: Aletihad - Abu Dhabi
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