Your guide to the Al Ain Traditional Handicrafts Festival

There are loads of cool cultural events for the family

Your guide to the Al Ain Traditional Handicrafts Festival

Life is pretty hectic here in Abu Dhabi, even on our days off. With parties to attend, brunches to try and concerts to watch, sometimes it’s nice to switch off for a while and do something relaxing.

So if you fancy putting your creative energy into learning a new craft, we recommend you get yourself to Al Ain and check out the Traditional Handicrafts Festival.

Running from now until November 16 in the Garden City, the event is a great way of learning more about the traditions and heritage of the UAE.

Held under theme of ‘Crafts of Our Ancestors, Pride of the People’, the sixth annual event celebrates traditional crafts that have been practised in the UAE (or at least in the nation’s former guises) for centuries.

People of all ages can have a go at a variety of workshops that will cover skills such as pottery, traditional methods of weaving and basketry, drawing and colouring.

Children will be able to take part in a range of activities and you’ll also be able to browse a traditional market selling clothing, handicrafts, Arabic coffee and other handmade items made by local artisans.

A total of 150 different exhibitors will be showing their skills and hoping to sell their hand-hewn goods, and it sounds like a great place to pick up a few Christmas gifts.

Traditional performances will take place throughout the festival too, and you’ll be able to see how the rhythms, melodies, movement and instruments reflect the ways of the Emirati community and how they have changed over time. On top of that you can sign up to take part in a variety of competitions, with categories in Arabic coffee-making, traditional foods and folk dancing.

Meanwhile, one of the highlights of the programme will be the amazing displays of falconry, a popular sport which is an integral part of Arabian heritage. Emiratis have practised this desert discipline for generations and it really is a sight to behold.

Some 45,000 visitors are expected to head over to Al Qattara Souq during the ten days of the festival.

Saeed Hamad Al Kaabi, the intangible heritage director at Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) Abu Dhabi, says: “The Traditional Handicrafts Festival returns to Al Qattara Souq year after year to emphasise DCT Abu Dhabi’s commitment to preserving our ancestors’ heritage that is represented in their handmade crafts and environmentally-adaptable products.

“The festival aims at raising the coming generation’s awareness of the great value in our nation’s rich past and heritage, while providing the ideal platform for families to interact with heritage and its artistic components.”

We’re not sure which part of this ten-day jamboree we’re looking forward to the most, but doing something more productive with our weekends would be a real result.
Free. Until Nov 16. 9am-1pm & 4pm-10pm. Al Qattara Arts Centre, Al Ain,


Al Ain Oasis
The beautiful 3,000 acre oasis is jam-packed with 147,000 palm trees and it’s a super relaxing place for a gentle stroll.
Free. Sat-Thu 9am-4pm; Fri 2pm-4.30pm, Hessa Bint Mohammed Street,

Wadi Adventure
The adventure-fuelled whitewater rafting, kayaking, wakeboarding and surfing centre also boasts a 200m zipline.
From Dhs65 (adults), Dhs45 (kids). Open daily 11am-7pm. Jebel Hafeet (03 781 8422).

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