Maritime Heritage Festival 2023 shines a light on UAE’s traditional coastal life
Abu Dhabi’s Maritime Heritage Festival has returned for its second event, transforming the capital’s Corniche into a maritime village. Running until February 26, the festival features a recreated traditional shoreline community, complete with a series of immersive experiences and workshops, bringing historic crafts and traditions to life.
Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi, the festival, which is an ode to a simpler time, is split into several areas, including the Fishing Village, Trading Village, Heritage Guardians and the Promenade.
At the Fishing Village, visitors can watch a re-enactment of a traditional market auction, learn about salting and spicing techniques and even buy fresh fish and have it cooked in front of them, as they would in older times. Meanwhile, artisans are also holding demonstrations, showing guests how to make shasha boats and gargoor fishnets, while falconers showcase the traditional methods of catching and training birds of prey.
The trading village, meanwhile, offers an opportunity to learn more about the UAE’s embroidery, tailoring and fashion, as well as traditional medicine and various other crafts — including smithing, dyeing and henna. Craftsmen are also showcasing how various parts of traditional boats were built, from the dhows to sails and paddles.
While schools compete in various historic games competitions, the UAE Wrestling & Judo Federation’s finest will duke it out in a traditional wrestling tournament.
The programme also features a wide array of other experiences, from traditional rowing races and dhow parades to children’s workshops and oyster opening demonstrations. Poet Nujoom Alghanem is directing the festival’s nightly show, Between Shores, which features two Emirati performers, presenting music, poetry and movement. The show is joined by various other musical and literary performances, including poetry, sea shanties and large musical ensembles.
Ahead of the festival’s launch, Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, said it would celebrate and raises awareness of the UAE’s seafaring heritage.
Al Hosani added: “For centuries, our ancestors thrived and developed thanks to the bounties of the sea, and it is DCT Abu Dhabi’s proud responsibility to preserve and protect this rich coastal history and its associated practices, so that invaluable knowledge and skills might be safeguarded for future generations and progress Abu Dhabi.”
The Maritime Heritage Festival runs at A’l Bahar, Abu Dhabi Corniche until February 26