UAE: Enjoy camel rides, village vibes, traditional food as Al Hosn Festival returns

The 10-day festival in the heart of the bustling city is a perfect spot to connect with Abu Dhabi's past

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 18 Jan 2024, 12:25 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 Jan 2024, 11:11 PM

When was the last time you rode a camel? Have you participated in the social rituals of welcoming a newborn? How about soaking up the sights, sounds and scents of a village and traditional souk in historic Abu Dhabi?

From Friday, January 19 to 28, community members will have a rare opportunity to experience all these and more activities as the Al Hosn Festival returns.

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The annual celebration of Emirati traditions and heritage is hosted at Al Hosn, home to the city’s most treasured historic landmark: Qasr Al Hosn. While exploring performances, souks, cuisine, arts and crafts, and family workshops, this 10-day festival in the heart of the bustling city is an apt space to connect with Abu Dhabi’s past.

Divided into three zones: heritage, craft and community, the festival offers a variety of programmes and activities. Khaleej Times was offered a sneak peek as part of a preview tour ahead of the opening.

“This year, we have new additions, and a few things are the same. Like, we do have the zones, but in different areas and programmes. There is something for everyone. Food stalls, markets, and performances include popular Emirati songs, Arab poetry and international styles. All the artists are based in the UAE,” Randa Bin Haidar, Director of Culture Festivals and Platforms at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said.

Heritage zone

Step into the historic Qasr Al Hosn to explore a unique programme on the theme of ‘Megnas’, or the hunt. Through a series of exhibitions, activities and workshops, this layered experience transports visitors into the heritage of hunting with falcons in the UAE, from the history of this practice to its cultural significance today.

Meanwhile, outside in the open areas, visitors will have the opportunity to ride, feed, and even milk camels. At Majlis Al Shallah, there will be live recitals of poetry related to desert life and camel culture. Relive the old days of Abu Dhabi through recreated village settings with artisans and happenings of daily life.

A camel herder is ready to offer rides to visitors. Photos: Ashwani Kumar
A camel herder is ready to offer rides to visitors. Photos: Ashwani Kumar
Visitors will have the opportunity to feed, and even milk camels
Visitors will have the opportunity to feed, and even milk camels

Other activities include learning how people lived in deserts, meeting Al Hosn Police Guards, seeing marching bands, welcoming a newborn by following the customs, witnessing Talli handicraft, savouring Emirati cuisine, and catching traditional performances like Al Ayyalah, Al Mankoos and more.

Learn how people lived in deserts
Learn how people lived in deserts

Craft zone

The House of Artisans features a range of authentic products and lets visitors learn about the centuries-old techniques for making them. Meanwhile, this year’s Makers Space has been built around the concept of an Emirati house.

The House of Artisans features a range of authentic products and lets visitors learn about the centuries-old techniques for making them. Photos: Ashwani Kumar
The House of Artisans features a range of authentic products and lets visitors learn about the centuries-old techniques for making them. Photos: Ashwani Kumar

Elsewhere, the Children’s Library brings a special experience, including doll making, games, and more fun. There is a new area for family workshops, cultural activities and interactive sessions.

At the Farmers Market, experience the diversity of Emirati agriculture and indulge in delicious food sold directly by producers
At the Farmers Market, experience the diversity of Emirati agriculture and indulge in delicious food sold directly by producers

At the Farmers Market, experience the diversity of Emirati agriculture and indulge in delicious food sold directly by producers. Don’t miss out on checking different varieties of dates. Then there is Bazaar to pick gifts and souvenirs.

Adding to the variety, Al Ain Zoo brings an amazing showcase of animals. Finally, the popular Gahwa Championship is back where specialists compete in selecting, roasting, preparing, and presenting traditional Arabic coffee.

Community zone

At the Cultural Foundation, visitors can witness innovative and interactive audio and visual artworks from local, regional, and global contemporary artists. There will be several live musical performances with diverse flavours of Abu Dhabi to explore at a range of local pop-ups. And meet the rising stars of Mawhibaty, a government-led programme that has supported young musicians across Abu Dhabi since 2017.

Tickets are available on platinumlist.net. General admission tickets for those aged between 13 and 65 costs Dh30, Dh15 for children aged between 5 and 12 years, and free for children under five years, senior citizens, and people of determination.

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