HH Sheikh Hazza binTahnoon bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, the head of Ruler’s Representative court in the Eastern Region, has inaugurated the first National Traditional Handicrafts Festival, organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which will run from 23-29 October at Al Ain City’s historic Souq Al Qattara.
Accompanied by HE Jasem Al Darmaki Acting Director General of TCA Abu Dhabi and HE Dr. Zaki Nusseibeh, a board member of TCA Abu Dhabi, HH toured the festival and explored the various workshops showcasing traditional Emirati handicrafts,which were perfected by Emirati forefathers, who used uniqueraw materials and machinery to create their products. The workshops also highlight both the production and marketing processes that go into presenting the products as traditional merchandise. The festival will also enable researchers to explorethe unique characteristics of the manufacturing materials, and how the products satisfied the needs of locals and helped in the everyday lives of Emirati society. The workshops will also focus on the current status of these handicrafts and the scope of developing them to meet the needs of our modern era whilesimultaneously preserving their unique traditional traits.
HH also visited the traditional handicrafts market under TCA Abu Dhabi’s Productive Families initiative. The market will beopen to the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays every week until next May, echoing the age-old Emirati tradition of setting up weekly markets (souks) to sell their hand-madeproducts. More than 30 families, specialising in crafting different traditional products, are participating in the market,which offers visitors a convenient shopping experience while they learn about deep-rooted Emirati heritage at the same time.Emiratis have been particularly prolific at creating variousproducts that helped them thrive in an environment with limited resources. Modern Emirati society preserves this heritage as part of its unique national identity.
“Part of our efforts to pass on our rich heritage to future generations, the Festival is a valuable opportunity for TCA Abu Dhabi to revive traditional handicrafts, identify their practitioners and follow up, support and develop their activities,” said Dr. Nasser Al Humairi, Director of the Intangible Heritage Department at TCA Abu Dhabi. “Thesehandicrafts are an essential element of our national identity which we are so keen to preserve.”
Running in parallel with the Festival, TCA Abu Dhabi’s Intangible Heritage Department has been cooperating with a number of expert craftswomen in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain tointroduce and promote traditional handicrafts to a wider audience by organising meetings and trips for tourists and locals to meet these experts as they work. The Authority also supports the craftswomen’s participation in traditional souks, festivals, national events, and school and university activities.
The National Traditional Handicrafts Festival will further include heritage competitions intended for visitors of all age groups such as the Al Yola dance for kids, preparing traditional dishes, brewing Arabic coffee and a craftsmanship competition, in addition to numerous general knowledge competitions for the public. Folklore groups will also perform Al Harbiyah, AlAyyalah dance, rebaba music, and Al Shallah and Al Yola.