UAE: Sheikh Zayed's vision drives grandmother to Al Wathba festival

In the olden days, Anisa Ezzat Hassan Abouomar said people used to participate in the festival just to catch a glimpse of the UAE rulers


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 8 Jan 2022, 4:07 PM

For Anisa Ezzat Hassan Abouomar, a 74-year-old Egyptian exhibitor, the Sheikh Zayed Festival in Abu Dhabi is much more than just an international entertainment and cultural event.

The festival, she said, not only preserves and celebrates Emirati identity but it is an important platform to pass on the traditions and knowledge to the next generations.

Anisa is growing old, but has never missed a single edition of the festival in the past decades. When asked what drove her every year to the desert of Al Wathba, she said: the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

“I have been coming to the festival from the days it was held in tents. Back then, it wasn’t at this scale, but there was no dearth in our passion to participate," said Anisa, who has been living in the suburbs of Abu Dhabi for nearly three decades.

In the olden days, Anisa said people used to participate in the festival just to catch a glimpse of the UAE rulers.

"I used to be here with my friends because we all knew that Sheikh Zayed and other royals would pass by us," she said. "We were just happy to be able to get a chance to see them. We lived for those moments ... And I had the good fortune to once shake hands with Sheikh Zayed."

One of the reasons she loves participating in the Sheikh Zayed Festival is because it embodies everything the UAE's Founding Father stood for.

"Sheikh Zayed always stressed on the importance of preserving culture and tradition," she said. "I will continue to participate in this festival named after the beloved ruler, may his soul rest in peace."

Anisa has been participating at the festival with her brand of unique spices, herbs and frankincense.

“It started as a hobby in my childhood. It developed with age. I seemed to have talent at mixing spices and herbs, which are excellent antioxidants. I would source spices from the local market. I would then mix them to form my unique brand: Al Mehmas,” Anisa told Khaleej Times.

She noted that Sheikh Zayed and other leaders always encouraged women entrepreneurs - an aspect that Anisa attributes to the many female exhibitors at the pavilion run by Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation at the festival’s Al Wathba Souq.


“Over the years, this festival has been a good ground for women like myself and others to develop their career and support our families with our own earnings,” said the grandmother, who lives in Al Rahba.

“I make my own products, which have good health benefits. These are good for the heart, respiratory systems and keeping blood pressure in check. I offer my secret ingredients to people who come and ask me.”

She underlined that all products have undergone quality checks prior to being exhibited at the festival, which runs until April 1. Abu Dhabi's Integrated Transport Centre has been operating daily free bus service at regular frequency from the central bus station to the festival in Al Wathba.

More news from Arts and Culture