Abu Dhabi: Local, Arab folk musicians serenade visitors at Al Dhafra Book Festival

This year’s event draws inspiration from a poem by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Published: Fri 9 Dec 2022, 4:33 PM

Last updated: Fri 9 Dec 2022, 4:37 PM

Folk musicians have been enthralling visitors to the Al Dhafra Book Festival 2022 with a series of entertaining shows. And the amazing reception from the public shows that the traditional form of music is not just alive and kicking but continues to thrive in the country.

This year’s edition has been themed: ‘Celebrating a Cultural Legacy’ and draws inspiration from a poem by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UAE’s Founding Father, where he expresses immense pride in Al Dhafra, highlighting the region as a prominent cultural, touristic, and historical destination for visitors from around the world.

Held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, the festival has been hosting a range of local, Arab and international musical performances and folk dances narrating the heritage of their countries.

The artists, in colourful traditional attire, roam the site at the Public Park in Al Dhafra’s Zayed City, entertaining visitors with melodies retelling stories from history. And these performances have been drawing large crowds.

There are shows aimed to entertain students and youngsters, and competitions held to encourage them to read.

Moroccan Gnawa music

The musical performance by the Moroccan folk band is accompanied by drums and traditional instruments, and songs that express the country’s rich customs and heritage. The band welcomes visitors with tambourines and wooden flutes, while wearing traditional Moroccan men’s attire: a red dress embroidered with drawings that depict the traditional heritage of the people of Morocco.

Al Razfa perfromance

The festival’s main stage features local traditional musical performances by the Al-Harbiyya and Al-Ayaliyya bands that are very well received by the audience. The festival has attracted popular bands from around the Emirates, who specialise in performances inspired by local heritage and ‘Shallat’ (without using musical instruments).

Heritage of Al Sa’eed

The Egyptian Al Sa’eed folk band performs the traditional melodies of Al Sa’eed region (Upper Egypt). They are dressed in traditional clothes that embody their history and sing lyrics inspired by tales from their heritage. The band presents a musical performance at the festival’s front entrance, with well-known Sa’eedi songs, popular around the Arab world.

Festival extended till Sunday

With the festival receiving high turnout, the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), has extended the festival till Sunday.

This is an opportunity for people to explore new titles by publishers and enjoy a wide range of literary and heritage-based activities. The programme includes more than 100 activities covering various topics, including a series of cultural evenings titled ‘Voices Loved by the People’, which celebrates renowned and popular poets and artists from Al Dhafra. There are two areas for children and young people’s activities, one dedicated to children’s workshops and story readings, and another for workshops for youth. The festival concludes on Sunday and runs from 9am to 1 pm and 5pm to 10pm.


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