Nearly 120,000 people were taken on a journey of Abu Dhabi's cultural heart when they made their way to the Qasr Al Hosn Festival, which took place in the capital from February 11th to 21st.
Over the course of the 11-day event, guests relived their memories with their friends and families as they celebrated years of Emirati heritage and identity in a setting which fully narrates the development of Abu Dhabi.
They had the rare opportunity to visit Qasr Al Hosn, the symbolic birthplace of Abu Dhabi and a valuable monument of Emirati traditional heritage, and participate in activities of culture and tradition which have helped shape the UAE today.
The Qasr Al Hosn Fort is the symbolic birthplace of the capital of the UAE dating back to the late 17th century, and had for generations housed its ruling family, Al Nahyan, as the city developed over the years.
Today, the Fort represents centuries of Emirati history and culture, and the festival, organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA Abu Dhabi, is held annually to celebrate the Fort, the UAE's identity, as well as Abu Dhabi's traditions and culture.
"The influx of visitors to the Qasr Al Hosn Festival over the past eleven days reflects the importance of the Fort to the people of Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a symbol of our history. The festival was a unique opportunity for us to celebrate our cultural heritage, and bring it to life in an interactive setting which combines the traditional with the modern. Visitors were able to enjoy a fully immersive experience of the Emirati traditional lifestyle," said Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of TCA Abu Dhabi.
He added that the festival edition placed great importance on the transfer of Emirati heritage knowledge to the youth. The programme engaged university students in both learning and communicating UAE traditional practices and crafts. Additionally, the festival hosted a large number of school students who were offered an interactive learning experience to bring them closer to their history.
"It also played a key role in highlighting the importance of conserving our tangible heritage and ensuring the transfer of our intangible heritage knowledge to the next generation of UAE nationals," added Sheikh Sultan.
Held in the grounds of Qasr Al Hosn, the 2015 festival shed light on the Fort's conservation process and its former functions, and gave visitors access to the inner Fort, as well as the National Consultative Council.
The four-zoned Festival Area, with its different elements and activities reinterpreting the Marine, Desert, Oasis and Island environments, was extremely popular as visitors had the chance to enjoy the synergy between the traditional and the modern.
Additionally, having re-opened the doors of the Cultural Foundation building for inspiring activities and live performances, visitors had the chance to revive their memories of this modern heritage building.
The educational workshops alone attracted hundreds of children of all ages, while the Amphitheatre was at full capacity almost every day for the Memory of Emirati song's live performances and the ‘Cinema Emaratiya' programme.
Over the 11-day event, school trips included nearly 3,000 students from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi who visited the festival for specially-organised experiential tours and had the opportunity to understand the capital's cultural development initiatives, and the conservation techniques involved in preserving the Qasr Al Hosn Fort.
Additionally, the Qasr Al Hosn Festival Ambassadors Programme, targeted to engage with youths and designed to increase awareness of the Emirate's history, traditions and culture among Abu Dhabi's younger generation, had grown in size to welcome more than 250 registered students keen on playing a role in the preservation of their cultural heritage.
After having received extensive training from cultural experts and festival organisers, the ambassadors interacted with visitors and helped narrate the Emirate's rich culture and history across the various festival areas.
Participating ambassadors represented 10 universities from across the Emirate, including Zayed University, United Arab Emirates University, the Higher Colleges of Technology, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, Al Hosn University, Emirates College for Advanced Education, Al Ain University of Science and Technology, Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi University, and NYU Abu Dhabi University and College.