The Liwa Date Festival 2011 kicked off this week as its tents welcomed visitors hungry for information on the sweet fruit and also hoping to get to sample some. Participants and stand owners are looking froward to interacting with visitors from a wide range of nationalities before the annual festival comes to an end on Thursday, July 21, 2011. \"The first day has been quiet…there aren\'t many visitors yet, but I hope that as more people become aware that it has begun, we\'ll be able to interact with more visitors not only from the area but around the UAE,\" Hanaa Ammar, an art teacher, said. \"I have participated in previous heritage festivals with works created by my students in various workshops…for this event, I have created eight pieces focusing on the palm tree while my students created a colourful painting. Hopefully, we\'ll receive some positive feedback about their work,\" she added. Article continues below Special visitors Earlier, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler\'s Representative in the Western Region, inaugurated the festival and toured various sections along with Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazroui, Chairman of the Organising Committee, the Advisor for Culture and Heritage at the Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Director-General of ADACH, and Obaid Khalfan Al Mazroui, the festival\'s director. \"The date competition has already received a great turnout, with over 700 farmers registering for the first two competition categories, the Dabbas and Akbar Azej [date bunch] alone…we expect similar numbers or even more over the next week because of both the competition\'s popularity and the fact that there are two new competitions this year, for the best mangoes and lemons,\" Faree Rashid, one of the Date Competition judges, said. \"Overall, I believe this year\'s edition will be as successful if not more than the 2010 festival because of the addition of such new elements,\" he added. More than 3,600 farmers and 360 stands have been registered for the Liwa Date Festival 2011, whose size has increased to 52,000sqm. In addition to the traditional souq and children\'s area, visitors will be provided with an opportunity to interact with a wide variety of organisations that will be showcasing their products and initiatives at the festival.