Residents and visitors in Ajman on Wednesday were treated to a carnival atmosphere as the three-day Ajman Liwa Date Festival got underway.
Events were designed to educate as well as entertain and focused on the importance of the date palm tree to the country's culture and traditions.
Khalid Al Hadidi, an Emirati from Ajman, had read about the festival, on its second outing, and wanted to learn more about the different types of dates and the companies producing them.
"I am looking forward to visiting because of the dates and learning about new date products as well as the results of the best dates type competition,” said Mr Al Hadidi, 40.
His wife, Fatima Al Kaabi, 38, said this year's festival was even better than the inaugural event in 2011 and had more traditional products.
"They have more focus on traditional products,” Ms Al Kaabi said. "The date juices are something new I have never tasted before. I'll bring my sons and daughters of an afternoon to visit so they can recognise the heritage of our ancestors and participate in entertainment and cultural competitions.”
Visitors to the Emirates Hospitality Centre included farmers with an interest in date palm production and people wanting an enjoyable family day out.
The aim of the event is to educate farmers on how to take care of palm trees and improve the production of dates as well as showcasing an Emirati tradition, said Ajman Tourism director Khulood Al Nuaimi who said 70,000 visitors are expected.
Emirati Ali Al Marzooqi, who owns a plant and tree nursery, said he was taking part in the festival to sell trees and do his bit to keep alive his heritage.
"In this booth I am displaying 85 sorts of palm trees and most buyers are Emiratis who plant them at their homes and farms for dates,” he said.
"I expect the percentage of sales this year will increase by 50 to 60 per cent on 2011 because of the large media promotion of the carnival through billboards on streets and social media.”
Hassan Jarrad, the Iraqi owner of Al Fahed Dates in Ajman, is also taking part in the festival for the second time but he expects to sell less of his stock than he did in 2011.
"The percentage was 90 per cent and I expect to sell this year about 70 per cent because there are many shops outside the festival that sell dates at cheaper prices,” Mr Jarrad said.
"I have about 15 kinds of dates and the best type are Lulu and Khalaas. Most buyers are Emiratis because it is their main ingredient in different food items but tourists buy a small amount of dates because they are not used it.”
Source: The National