Come down to Al Dhafra Festival in the gentle dunes of Madinat Zayed – in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate – and you will learn what camels mean to the men of the desert. You will see how deep the Emiratis and Gulf Arabs’ love for falcons, salukis and horses go.
You will be hard pressed not to visit an “azba” (an animal camp), set up by thousands of festival participants from all over the Gulf, where you will be encouraged to take some photos, taste some fresh camel milk and, in true Arab hospitality fashion, enjoy some Arabic coffee.
Come down to Al Dhafra Festival this December and you will also experience workshops, shows and competitions of various art forms!
Like in its previous years, this ninth edition of Al Dhafra Festival, taking place from 10th to 30th December, has taken centuries old Emirati customs and traditions to all creativity levels. The Festival’s organisers, the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee – Abu Dhabi (CPHFC) has put together a full packed programme of art, photography, cooking and heritage know-how workshops and competitions.
Traditional handicrafts competitions, cook-offs between professional chefs using traditional products such as camel milk and dates, heritage workshops where visitors get to weave their own palm fronds baskets or try their hands at embroidery, traditional Emirati singing and dancing performed by the Abu Dhabi Folklore Group will all happen in the new permanent souq, which will open this December 19 right next to the grand stand of the camel competitions, and it will remain opened all year round.
Nearly as old as Al Dhafra Festival itself is the Al Dhafra Photography Competition, which started in 2008 and this year is back with a little treat.
“Soon after the show we will launch the second book of Al Dhafra Photography Competition, a photo album with the winning and best runner up entries from 2013, 2015 and this edition, 2015,” said Abdullah Butti Al Qubaisi, Director of Projects Management at CPHFC.
The first book was launched in 2012, publishing the best pictures of the competition, from the time it started in 2008 till 2012.
“We decided to publish the photo albums because they are something tangible for everybody to see,” added Al Qubaisi.
The competition is opened to everyone, amateur or professional photographers, who are invited to unleash their creativity, the only requirement being that pictures must be taken at Al Dhafra Festival 2015.
According to Bader Al Nomani, organiser of the Photography Competition, this photo contest is held out of a firm belief in the value of photos as living documents that record events and transmit their genuineness with a sensitive creative touch that adds artistic dimensions and magic aesthetic visions to the historical value.
The competition is designed to achieve a set of goals, notably to boost the photography movement in the United Arab Emirates, create greater communication between the generations, increase environmental awareness, revive interest in heritage in line with technological, artistic and cultural developments, and shed light on the Bedouin community and its patterns of life.
All this comes in view of the historical value of the rich desert culture, which has affected Arab and Western societies alike, prompting a number of early Orientalists, explorers and travellers to dig deep into the unknown and search for its magic and learn from its legacy through photographs, which act today as a living witness for generations to come.
Participants in the photo competition are expected to highlight the daily events of Al Dhafra Festival 2015 through creative photos characterised by technical excellence and high artistic perception; present artistic images that depict the beauty of camels and their relationship with humans; show the environment of the Festival and the beauty of nature in the region.