When dates compete for cash and glory
Ethag or branches of dates brought to the festival for the competitions
Abu Dhabu - The 12 edition of the Liwa Date Festival which began on Wednesday will end on July 30
Published: Thu 21 Jul 2016, 6:31 PM
Last updated: Thu 21 Jul 2016, 8:42 PM
Over 100 baskets of dabbas were lined up on tables, awaiting judgment for the tastiest, healthiest and the best-looking date of them all. This variety of dates, especially popular in the Liwa oasis, was the first among the 10 ratab - half ripe dates - competitions to start the 12th annual Liwa Dates Festival.
On Wednesday evening, the first day of the festival, 20 farmers brought in their baskets of fresh dabbas to be judged and 15 more came in with massive ethag, branches of dates, which were also part of the first day of the competitions.
By the end of the night, the heaviest ethag weighed 105kg, and it fetched Dh50,000 when the winners were announced at a ceremony on Thursday night.
For the two dabbas competitions, one for higher salinity and the other for lower salinity plantations, prizes range from Dh100,000 for the first place to Dh5,000 in the 15th place in each category.
"The quality of all these dabbas entries is very high. We look at the size, colour, weight, taste and pesticides free when judging the ratab, but we have our work cut out for us this year, as the quality of all entries is very good," said Khalifa Maktoum Al Mazrouei, one of the judges of the ratab competitions.
"Dabbas is a medium size, sweet date that is particularly popular here, in the Liwa region. It is also the first to ripen and that is why we start the ratab competitions with dabbas," added Dr Hassan Shabana, also a judge for the ratab competitions.
Organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi, the festival is a celebration of the new harvest of dates across the UAE, but also a celebration of Emirati heritage and a great economic support to Al Gharbia (Western Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate) population.
By the end of the 10-days festival, July 30, kunaizi, bou maan, farth and the nation's favourite, khallas varieties of dates will compete for cash and glory.
"These are the most popular, most grown varieties of dates in the UAE and that is why we selected them for the ratab competitions," said Abdullah Butti Al Qubaisi, director of Projects Management and Communication at the Committee.
"Participants have the option to compete with other varieties of ratab in the nukhba competition, which awards the best basket of mixed ratab," he added.
As with dabbas, all ratab varieties competitions will award cash prizes to the best 15 entries. Altogether, the committee will give away Dh6 million in 220 prizes, which also include Best Model Farm, Best Fruit Basket, Best Mangoes, Best Lemons, Best Heritage Model and Photography competitions. All fruits in the competitions must be UAE grown.