The greatest showcase of bedouin lifestyle This is the one festival that embodies the spirit of heritage in this part of the world.
MADINAT ZAYED, AL DHAFRA REGION
The greatest showcase of bedouin lifestyle
This is the one festival that embodies the spirit of heritage in this part of the world. If Paris fashion week in undoubtedly the main yearly must go to event for the Haute Couture world, then AlDhafra festival is the place to be for the lovers and admirers of bedouin life and culture.
This yearly festival that is held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy commander in chief of the UAE armed forces, is somehow the joining link between the generations in an ever changing social environment, and an occasion to celebrate heritage within the young generation who lives in a globalized society open to the cultures of the world.
Weeks before the official opening of the festival in December on the edge of the Empty Quarter desert and its magnificent sand dunes, the caravans of the camel owners, tribes and Sheiks alike, start moving towards Al Dhafra from the many parts of the arabian peninsula, until the breathtaking and almost surreal scene takes fulls shape on the festival grounds with hundreds of men and women from the many tribes of the region and thousands of only pure bred camels from the Asayel and Majaheem lineage.
The program of the festival includes first and foremost the famous Mazayna, a beauty contest for camels and a celebration of this most beloved animal that played a huge role in sustaining life in these arid lands long before the oil and wealth era.
Visitors of the festival will admire and never forget the cheers and traditional chants of the tribes when celebrating their winning camel while marking the head of the animal with a paste made with the expensive and rare Saffron along with other aromatics.
Alongside the many cultural aspects, the festival constitutes an undisputed venue for huge business deals and multi million dollars camel purchases. That might happen in the open auctions, or in the serenity of the night along the main avenue of the festival, the Charee al Malyoon, or “Avenue of the Million”. After all, pure bred race camels are no less expensive than the most sought after horses.
Besides Mazayna, the festival program includes many activities and contests, including a photography competition, a popular bazar, Saluki dogs races and falconry shows to name a few.