Shaikh Tahnoun bin Saeed bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan inaugurated the 8th edition of the Liwa Date Festival on Thursday. The week-long celebration of Emirati heritage will continue till July 18 and expects to welcome over 70,000 visitors from both within the UAE and abroad. Central to the event is a series of competitions for the best dates, which will be divided into different varieties such as ‘al-dabbas’, ‘al-kunaizi’ and ‘al-farth’. The Liwa Date Festival will also host a mango and lemon competition today, a contest that debuted at last year’s festival. First place awards for several competitions come with Dh200,000 in prize money. The festival will include a kids’ tent hosting competitions and educational activities, as well as a traditional souq highlighting traditional Bedouin handicrafts such as products derived from palm trees and dates. Competitions for different varieties of dates will be spread out over the week, offering first prize awards of up to Dh200,000 for certain categories. Organisers expect an even greater turnout for the event this year than the 70,000 who attended last year, many of whom travelled to Liwa from within the UAE or abroad to participate. Festival organiser Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority hopes the event will increase awareness of the cultural and historical legacy held by Abu Dhabi emirate’s Western Region, where Liwa Oasis is located. The main objective of the festival is to promote awareness among UAE farmers on the best and modern ways of irrigation and how to take care of palm trees. This will go a long way in improving food security and keep the traditional produce in touch with the new trends. The event is also to encourage farmers to improve the quality of dates and to become a platform for exchanging experiences for the best in agricultural practices. The festival hopes to celebrate Liwa city which is a heritage and cultural hub bridging the present with the past. Tourists can enjoy local handicrafts made from palm trees, in addition to date sweets all of which show the simple life of Bedouin people. Liwa’s local souq will focus on the vital role being played by women in the traditional Bedouin economy.