The Higher Organizing Committee of Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014 has revealed the festival details, key milestones and main attractions for the festival which kicks off in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, from 20 November until 12 December 2014. The announcement was made during a press conference held by the Higher Organizing Committee, at the Jumeirah Etihad Towers Hotel in the capital Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014 is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, may God protect him, and with the support of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The festival is supported by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Advisor to the President and Chairman of the Emirates Camel Racing Federation, had earlier adopted the key elements of Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014.
In his speech during the press conference His Excellency Humaid Al Neyadi, Vice Chairman of the Higher Organizing Committee of Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014 and General Manager of the Private Office of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, thanked HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, for his continuous and unlimited support of the UAE’s heritage, and for nourishing it in the spirits of Emirati youth by strengthening their pride and sense of belonging with the UAE.
His Excellency also thanked HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his unwavering support of the UAE’s heritage and all the events and activities that solidify this national heritage in the hearts of the youth. His Excellency reiterated that HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has not spared any efforts in promoting the UAE’s heritage and conveying this message with the most honourable image to the world.
His Excellency went on to thank HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his tireless work towards the success of this event, and conveying the UAE’s heritage to the rest of the world. His Excellency expressed his appreciation to HE Sheikh Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan for his ongoing support of the festival, and for expanding it to global prospects over the next few years.
HE Al Neyadi added: “We are the people who have inherited the traditions and history that form the roots of our beloved country. Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival is the gateway to transfer the UAE’s rich heritage to upcoming promising generations and to the world, as an expression of love, gratitude and loyalty to our beloved leader, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – may God have mercy on him – and to his legacy of honouring the UAE’s history, which deserves our appreciation and admiration. All of the civilization, progress and prosperity that we see today throughout the UAE did not come by chance, but rather it was a seed planted by the founding father, and its fruits are being cultivated by the people of the UAE and the whole of humanity.”
HE Al Neyadi explained: “The festival consists of various elements that reflect the interests of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – may God have mercy on him – ranging from horses, camels and other aspects of our heritage. He also shed light on Emirati historical figures who lived here since ancient times, and their academic and cultural contributions that might have vanished if it wasn’t for the great interest of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God have mercy on him. In the eyes of HH Sheikh Zayed, an Emirati person has and always will be creative and successful.”
He went on to say: “Through the ‘Memories of a Nation’ exhibition, many historical events and facts will be revealed for the first time to the general public. We are also highlighting the achievements and interests of Sheikh Zayed. The festival includes Sheikh Zayed’s gallery and horses, and displays the horses of the Al Nahyan family – especially Rabdan, Sheikh Zayed’s first mare that was the subject of many stories and poems. The festival also includes a museum of the poet Majidi bin Dhaher, as well as a museum of the navigator Ahmad bin Majid. These great figures were about to be forgotten without the care and interest of Sheikh Zayed – may God have mercy on him – who issued an order to collect their academic and cultural contributions to serve as a testament of Emirati greatness for future generations. The festival also has an exhibition of the aflaj, which was part of the focus of the founding father, Sheikh Zayed – may God have mercy on him – who said: “Give me cultivation, and I will give you civilization”. Last but not least, the festival showcases Al Bidiyah mosque which dates back more than 500 years, as reflected in the framework of modern civilization and the UAE’s great history. “
HE Al Neyadi confirmed that this year’s edition of the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival follows an educational approach, with exciting cultural offerings to attract more young Emiratis and highlight their role as a link in the transfer of the UAE’s heritage from parents to children and future generations. He added: “We have devoted our efforts, as the Higher Organizing Committee of the festival headed by HE Sheikh Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Advisor to the President, Chairman of the Emirates Camel Racing Federation and Chairman of the Higher Organizing Committee of Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014, to
ensure that this edition is exceptional by all standards.”
HE Al Neyadi noted that Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014 is a “living museum” facilitating live interaction between the audience and the activities on the ground, through the latest technological innovations in this field.
HE Al Neyadi concluded his speech by saying that the opening ceremony to kick off the festivities at Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014 will be high profile and significant due to the magnitude and importance of this celebration, where the main festival attractions and scheduled activities of the next 22 days will be revealed.
For his part, Mr Abdullah Al Muhairi, Secretary General of the Emirates Camel Racing Federation said: “This edition of the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival includes a wide range of rich and major landmarks that nourish an understanding of Emirati heritage, and the transfer of the smallest details of Emirati life.”
He added: “I would like to highlight that we have a section that is very important because it contains historical images and films about the United Arab Emirates, as well as a ‘Home memory wing’ that includes several components and historical facts. Some of it will be presented for the very first time, most importantly an exhibition about the biography and achievements of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God have mercy on him. There will be a custom gallery of the progress of the Union, showcasing the various historical documents that were signed to lay the first brick of the foundation of our Union; as well as exhibitions that display the interests of Sheikh Zayed – may God have mercy on him – in development, education, agriculture, women and heritage. Moreover, an exhibition about oral history and a gallery of sports heritage is also available at this attraction.”
Al Muhairi pointed out: “The ‘Zayed and Horses’ exhibition is a vital attraction dedicated to exhibit the valued horses of the Al Nahyan family, and uses the latest interactive technologies to review the history of Arabian horses – starting from Rabdan, the first mare of Sheikh Zayed, that was the subject of many stories and poems, down to the horses of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which have made several notable achievements. The interest in camel racing for the Arabian breed was solidified by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in the context of maintaining Arab customs and the authentic traditions of our fathers and forefathers. The exhibition will also portray the relationship of the late Sheikh Zayed with his camels, his interest in raising them and the history of ten of the best presidential hybrids that won the sword trophies.”
Al Muhairi talked about the exhibition of the Emirati navigator Ahmad bin Majid, which is the flagship attraction in the marine environment, reliving the path and the achievements of the pioneer of Arab navigation, who was the first to discover the Cape of Good Hope. His contributions were a vital addition to the world of Arab navigation, particularly marine science and astronomy.
Al Muhairi emphasized that the exhibition of the UAE poet Majidi bin Dhaher – which is the main attraction in the Desert environment – delves in-depth into details of the leading poet of Hilali poetry. He explained that the three main parameters: the library of the state, the exhibition of the Emirati navigator Ahmad bin Majid and the exhibition of the Emirati poet Majidi bin Dhaher, use the latest technology to convey heritage in an interactive and interesting way, contrary to stereotypes.
Al Muhairi added that the other major landmarks include a mosque that is an exact replica of the historic Al Badiyah mosque, which dates back more than 500 years. Meanwhile the International Village Market reflects the progress of UAE society and cultural openness of Emiratis. This attraction features markets of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Yemen, China, India, Pakistan and European countries.
The interactive craft workshops are highlighted in the four different live environments. As one of the key interactive activities, visitors can participate in making handicrafts at these workshops. Traditional bands and Emirati folklore are featured in the four environments, reflecting the rich culture of UAE society and the people’s interaction in a civilized and vibrant manner – especially in early eras that were characterized by hardships in a harsh environment.
The festival is structured according to the four environments that made up the pillars of life in the United Arab Emirates, and are the basis of the citizens of each emirate: the desert, oasis, sea and mountains.
Animals are found in key sections of the festival. Besides the exhibition of the poet Majidi bin Dhaher, there is a horse and camel riding arena that teaches visitors how to ride horses and camels. There is also an equestrian exhibition and a theatre where poetry evenings are held throughout the festival, offering popular folkloric daily competitions.
The agricultural section includes aflaj within the history of the UAE, shedding light on this major milestone through lots of details and explanation. In addition there are several sub-components, particularly the Ancient Village, which represents the old neighborhoods of the UAE in the agricultural environment. It also includes an Emirati Farmer’s House and Palm Corner, as well as an exhibition of traditional herbal medicine.
The marine environment is epitomized by the museum of Emirati navigator Ahmad bin Majid as its major attraction. Sub-components include the dhow-building square, in addition to an old popular café that is an authentic reflection of the shape that cafés used to have at the time, representing the UAE’s popular traditions and wealth of heritage. Furthermore there is a Falcons Gallery which has everything related to falconry, as well as the Sailing section which deals with ships in detail.
In addition to Al Badiyah Mosque which is the main component in the mountains environment, there are three mountaintop houses that embody part of the mountain life in the UAE’s heritage; and the Arabian Saluki exhibition that has everything related to the Arabian Saluki, the most famous breed of dogs for fishing trips. The mountain environment also includes the Desserts corner and the Assal corner; as well as an Old Weapons section displaying historic weapons that were used in the UAE in that era.
Within these precise standards and diversity of heritage and cultural events, Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014 is expected to be an exceptional event that is a living museum of traditional Emirati heritage, capturing all its diversity through the latest technological innovations.