Al Dhafra Festival kicks off in Abu Dhabi

Big prizes and surprises await both participants in various competitions of Al Dhafra Festival and visitors.

ABU DHABI - The 13th edition of Al Dhafra Festival Kicked off Monday in Madinat Zayed, al Dhafra Region, Abu Dhabi.

The festival, which embodies the spirit of heritage in this part of the world, is organized by the Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi from December 9-25, in order to celebrate and preserve the heritage of the people of the United Arab Emirates.

This yearly festival, which is held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is an occasion to celebrate heritage within the young generation who lives in a globalized society open to the cultures of the world.

Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Commander-in-Chief of Abu Dhabi Police, Chairman of the Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee, assured that such events reflect the legacy of the founding father of the UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in preserving the heritage and the continuing support of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region.

“Sheikh Mohamed’s directives are aimed at preserving and transmitting cultural heritage to successive generations and promote heritage festivals. Therefore, the festival will witness a huge expansion in terms of organisation and competitions year after year,” said Al Mazrouei.

Eisa Saif Al Mazrouei, the Vice Chairman of the Organising Committee said that “the value of the festival prizes has been increased to AED20 million, according to a directive issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The total amount of festival prizes in its current edition has been increased to around AED60 million; AED25 million of which for the prizes of camel race and AED8 million for the prizes of other various heritage competitions.”

He said that there would be big surprises for the participants and visitors; as more than 1,000 prizes would be awarded during the current edition of Al Dhafra Festival.

The festival will be attended by the largest number of camel owners who are participating in the camel races comprising 81 rounds to win 695 prizes.

There are hundreds of prizes allocated for numerous heritage and popular camel competitions and races in addition to daily prizes for visitors of the festival during the various events of Al Dhafra’s traditional souq. 

In addition to the main camel race and camel-milking contest, the festival is organising nine competitions reflecting the UAE and Gulf cultural heritage. These nine competitions have been allocated around 245 prizes in addition to 16 heritage-related handicrafts and cooking competitions designed for women, men and children in the centre of Al Dhafra’s traditional souq.

The events of the festival include a falconry contest which is organised by Abu Dhabi Falconers Club. The competition has been allocated 60 prizes distributed to 6 rounds; 4 of which are general rounds for Farkh fledgling category (Jeer Teba/ Jeer Shaheen/ Jeer/ Jeer Kermousha) and 2 rounds for Jirnas general (1 round for Jeer Teba + Jeer Shaheen and 1 round for Jeer + Jeer Kermousha) and 2 rounds for Jirnas general (1 round for Jeer Teba + Jeer Shaheen and 1 round for Jeer + Jeer Kermousha). In a falcon contest for Farkh category which is organized in cooperation with Al Marzoom hunting reserve, 9 valuable prizes have been allocated for 3 rounds (Jeer Shaheen farkh, Pure Jeer farkh and Pure Kermousha farkh).


The heritage-related Arabian Saluki (greyhound) competition championship for 2500 meters will be held this year. The competition has been allocated 10 prizes distributed to 2 rounds (1 round for females and 1 round for males). As for the heritage-related Arabian Saluki race, it has been allocated 12 prizes for 4 categories (Al Hoss males, Al Hoss females, Aryash males and Aryash females). Furthermore, a purebred Arabian horse race has been allocated 9 prizes distributed to 3 rounds (Al Dhafra main round, the open round and beginners’ round), while 10 valuable prizes have been allocated for the purebred Arabian horses race distributed to 3 rounds (Al Dhafra main round, the open round and beginners’ round).

As for the shooting completion, 10 valuable prizes have been allocated for the shooting competition organized in cooperation with Al Dhafra Shooting Club in Madinat Zayed. When it comes to the Ghanam Al Naim Mazayna (sheep beauty competition), 60 prizes distributed to 6 rounds have been allocated (the most beautiful ram, the most beautiful ewe, the most beautiful male lamb, the most beautiful female lamb, the most beautiful male lamb locally produced and the most beautiful female lamb locally produced) and an open round for the 3 most beautiful female lamb; i.e. Total 10.

Al Dhafra’s Traditional Souq will witness the Best Dates and Dates packaging competitions. The competition has allocated 25 prizes distributed to 5 categories (Dabbas, Khalas, Sheeshee, Fard and dates packaging).

There is also the sour milk competition which has been allocated 50 prizes distributed to 5 competitions over 5 days. In addition, the Souq will witness various traditional competitions including (traditional dress stitching competition, Al Telli’ (embroidery), Sadu (weaving cotton and wool), Al Saff competition, perfume competition, frankincense competition, women fashion show competition, girls fashion show competition, women popular food competition, men popular food competition, Burqa competition, Thaml and weaving competition, traditional carpet (Zarabeel) weaving, milking competition, making dolls using the old way).

In addition, there are 8 workshops for children. These are (preparing coffee and croissant, preparing Logemat "bites", preparing sweets, Al Jabees workshop, preparing Sana’a, making the dining table, preparing popular toys, preparing of mud), in addition to many other events on the main auditorium and the child village along with the performance shows presented by CPHFC Abu Dhabi folklore troupe.

Al Dhafra festival
The camel beauty contest is a love affair

The camel race will witness new developments including key additions to Al Bairaq round include the increasing of the number of places for each round to become five places for local asayl category and five ranks for majaheem category in addition to increasing the amount of the prize so that the winner of the first place will get AED3 million, the winner of the second place will get AED2 million, the winner of the third-place will get AED1.5 million, the winner of the fourth place will get AED1 million and the winner of the fifth-place will get AED500,000; ie the total amount of the Bairaq prizes will become AED16 million.

Other requirements relating to the number of participating camels will be amended by decreasing the number from 50 camels in the past years to 30 camels this year.

Four more rounds have been added to be known as “challenge rounds” where each round has been 5 prizes; ie a total of 20 prizes, in the total amount of AED 2.120 million. Participants in Al Bairaq round and all other participants, in general, were allowed to participate in these rounds that include (Laqaya round, local Camel racing with robot jockeys, a round for local Thanyah and Hawl, a round for Laqaya and Majaheem Camel racing with robot jockeys and a round for Majaheem Thanyah and Hawl).

Four single general rounds have been added for tribesmen. These are (Tellad general local round, Sharaya general local round, Tellad general Majaheem round and Sharaya general Majaheem round). These four rounds have allocated prizes in the total amount of AED1.280 million.

Some additional requirements have been added to single rounds. These are: camels suspected of steroids shall be referred to medical examination, the prize of the place for which no competing camel has qualified shall be withheld and all camels participating in the Bairaq rounds have the right to register in challenge rounds.

As for the additions to the requirements of participating in camel rounds are: To refer the camel suspected of steroids to the medical examination, to withhold the prize of the place for which no competing camel has qualified, the camel that has failed to qualify to participate shall not be allowed to participate in the Bairaq round, the owner participating in Al Bairaq round shall be entitled to purchase a maximum of 15 she-camels, the owner participating in Baynouna round shall be entitled to a maximum of 10 she-camels and the camels participating in Al Bairaq rounds shall be allowed to participate in the challenge rounds.