Thousands of visitors flocked to Al Ain last weekend as a new programme of exciting cultural activities in the city was launched. The new year-long schedule of heritage and family-focused events is being organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).
The programme provides a multitude of ways for visitors to interact with the Emirate's cherished history, and has been curated to support the UNESCO theme 'Protecting our Heritage and Fostering Creativity'. It will run throughout 2017 at several iconic locations across the emirate's Garden City, and offers various events for both visitors and residents alike, with the initial activities already under way at Al Ain Oasis.
Evenings at the Oasis, which will return on February 10th followed by more dates in March and April, features a programme which evokes a sense of communal nostalgia, and crowds turned up in large numbers this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday to enjoy screenings of shows from popular culture of the 70s and 80s, traditional Ayyala performances, food trucks and story-telling inspired by life within the Oasis.
The Evenings at the Oasis screenings took place in the West Plaza, where family friendly showings, such as Iftah Ya Simsim (the Arabic Sesame Street), the old Emirati show Sh'hafan Al Gato, the old Kuwaiti show Darb Al Zalag, and old children's cartoons Grandizer and Sally, delighted audiences.
The event also featured heritage story-telling events, where three story-tellers recounted their personal experiences that demonstrated the rich heritage of the Oasis.
Enhancing the offerings at the Oasis, the programme will continue with Oasis Afternoons, which will begin on the weekend of February 3rd and 4th, where the West Plaza and West Gate Car park will be filled with communal market stalls from 2pm to 6pm. The vendors will sell traditional, handmade and modern Emirati products and produce, a first market of its kind, where all products are made and/or inspired by the Oasis and the material found within. These Afternoons also host children's workshops, with a range of arts and crafts projects for children of all ages to enjoy.
In addition, at Al Ain Oasis, there will also be the Celebrating the Seasons ongoing programme, which will run from February 1st to March 15th. Visitors can experience the different oasis farming seasons through activities organised on the theme of 'Germination', and what it must have been like to have been a farmer living in the oasis. The programme returns in March with activities highlighting 'The Oasis Garden', and in October will focus on 'Preservation'.
This extensive programme is designed to highlight Al Ain as the cultural heartland of the Emirate and the home to the UAE's only UNESCO World Heritage site open to the public. Al Ain is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities, which fuses the spirit of the past with a lively and contemporary vision for the future.