Art in Al Ain

Emirati culture brought to life in the Garden City

Culture is in full bloom in the Garden City of Al Ain – with a massive seven-month long programme of events set to bring a tantalising taste of Emirati life to a whole new audience.

Al Ain’s exciting new cultural programme – which will stretch on until next May – is now underway, with thought-provoking activities taking place at landmark sites including Al Ain Oasis, Al Jahili Fort, Qasr Al Muwaiji, Al Ain Palace, Al Ain Museum, Al Qattara Arts Centre and Souq Al Qattara, as well as at other spots dotted across the city.

The wide-ranging programme celebrates the rich history of the UAE and the communities that are dedicated to preserving the past for future generations.

A whole host of activities such as community engagement programmes, exhibitions and concerts are taking place across the packed season, meaning there will be something to see, do or experience every day until the May finale.

The Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi is giving residents a unique insight into the Emirati way of life through a series of intriguing initiatives, including the Travel Through Our Traditions programme, which runs every month until next April.

Visitors can broaden their horizons by spending time with Emirati women, families and farmers in their homes, opening up the door to their traditions and customs. The next instalment will be held on December 9, with tours departing at 9am from Al Ain National Museum and plotting a course for a traditional Emirati household.

Another highlight will be the fourth edition of the Traditional Handicrafts Festival, held at Al Qattara Souq until November 18, which will pay homage to the role of age-old crafts in shaping the UAE’s national identity.

Live demonstrations of craftsmanship, including pottery and spinning, will be on display during the festival, while workshops will cover subjects as diverse as falconry, artisan performances, drawing, painting and graphic art.

Al Ain Oasis, the nation’s first curated UNESCO World Heritage site, will also be welcoming visitors for the return of its Weekends at the Oasis programme, held from November 17 until March 31.

The communal marketplace will boast an array of family-friendly activities, including screenings of pop culture films, traditional and contemporary craft workshops inspired by the Oasis, plus horse riding, live cooking and a fleet of food trucks.

Al Ain Museum is right at the heart of the action, with hands-on events on offer such as weekly cuneiform writing and pottery decorating workshops.

Meanwhile, the Al Ain Palace Museum will be the grand setting for My Heritage, My Responsibility, the seasonal outdoor programme that will showcase UAE heritage with workshop performances and a traditional craft market.

Culture vultures can also make a date at the palace every Sunday for the Ramsa community engagement programme, in which the Emirati dialect and traditions will be discussed by experts and a handicrafts workshop will teach visitors the practical skills that have laid the foundations for the Abu Dhabi of today.

The iconic Al Jahili Fort is also taking centre stage, hosting the Abu Dhabi Classics music season as well as the monthly Memory of the Emirati Song, where Emirati youth keep in tune with their roots by playing works from the 1950s to the 1970s.

His Excellency Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general of the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, says: “Our aim is to focus this programme of Emirati heritage to attracting UAE-wide audiences, of visitors and residents alike, so that they can engage in activities that will give them a glimpse of the history and traditions that made this nation into what it is today.”

For more information on the programme, visit

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