WESTERN REGION, 23rd July, 2016 (WAM) — Nestled somewhere in between the vast blue ocean and the expansive desert, the Liwa oases are bracing for yet another season of summer festivities and heritage.

Liwa is home to the stunning sand dunes, breath-taking oases and the famous desert-tolerant Ghaf trees, which were planted there on the orders of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It is also home to the most anticipated summer event, the date festival.

The festival’s site looks like a bee-hive, with tents being prepared for the visitors, baskets of different types of dates going in and out, the ‘Ruqaq,’ a popular type of local bread, being baked in the traditional ovens and poets indulging in a rhymed dialogue.

Larissa Anthon, a visitor from Russia, expresses admiration for the vibrancy and teamwork she sees there, contrary to the image of isolation that is associated with desert.

“I thought people here are extroverts due to the nature of the place but when I arrived, I was taken by their warmth and hospitality. They come and greet me as if they know me for long. Their folklore singing is amazing,” she notes.

The current edition of the Liwa Date Festival sees date farmers competing for cash prizes amounting to AED 6 million in total.

“The festival is a panorama of the area’s history,” says Rakan Maktoum Al Qubaisi, one of the key organisers.

“The festival has succeeded in highlighting and sustaining the customs and traditions of Bedouins and their unique way of life. It has also put the Western Region on the map of major tourist destinations,” he adds.

“Such success would not have been achieved without the wise leadership’s unlimited support and keenness to preserve the heritage and to maintain the legacy of our forefathers,” he says.

WAM/bashir