UAE cuts inaugural ribbon for date festival

"The Liwa Dates Auction responds to the expectations of the sector"

ABU DHABI - A new festival bringing into the limelight Emirati traditions and heritage is about to cut its inaugural ribbons in Liwa City, in Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi Emirate. Organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi, the first edition of Liwa Dates Auction will take place this October 5 -14.
The event mostly seeks to facilitate the trading of locally produced dates, but also to unveil the latest technologies in sustainable agriculture related to palm tree farming and to shed light on the most praised Emirati varieties of dates.
"Through the organisation of this 10 days auction, the Committee seeks to revive the Emirati heritage and honour the palm tree and its dates. We also hope to provide nationals and residents visiting the event with an opportunity to learn about palm trees and the luxurious varieties of dates in the UAE. Our objective, hence, consists in turning the palm tree plantation and related industries into a strategic economic product in the country," said Mr. Obaid Khalfan Al Mazrouei, Planning and Projects Director at the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi.
"The Liwa Dates Auction is intended to increase the financial income of farmers and provide a valuable platform for knowhow exchange among owners of factories, companies and investment institutions in the dates sector."
"The Committee hopes that Liwa Dates Auction will turn into an annual gathering, where the lovers of dates and those interested in the sector of palm trees can come together, express their views and present their ideas for investment in the date palm agriculture and related industry," he added.
The auction is opened to farmers from all over the UAE, who may sell any variety and any quantity of dates, providing they are produced in their own farms and are of high quality. Auction buyers may be either individuals or organisations, and they may bid on any amount of dates.
According to Mr. Mussa Sultan Al Mansouri, Director of Liwa Dates Auction, the event has four different components, including two auctions - a 'traditional' one and an electronic one.
"The main auction is considered the centre of the main activity of the event, where bidders compete to obtain the best varieties of dates on display. The quality of dates is evaluated by a specialised committee upon receiving the dates from farmers at the on-site registration office. Participating farmers open the auction and set specific prices. Then, those willing to buy can bid higher, providing that the Organising Committee receives 5% share from the value of any sealed transaction," he said, adding:
"Just next to the main auction site is the online auction. Here, farmers will display their produce before taking and uploading pictures of their dates and their matching identification tags that carry specific serial numbers. The pictures will also display a number of other details, including the name of the farm owner, the dates varieties and the quantity available for sale. Those willing to buy can purchase the dates using their smart phones."
From the online auction too, the Organising Committee takes 5% share from the value of any sealed transaction. A specially created mobile application will be given for the e-bidding to all those who register for the online auction.
The festival, which will be hosted in an air-conditioned tent, will also have a dates market, where visitors may purchase fresh tamar - fully ripped dates - outside the auction.
The fourth component of Liwa Dates Auction is the exhibition area, where dates factories and companies from the UAE and beyond will present their services and latest technologies to farm owners and dates distribution centres. Dates packaging companies will also join them to showcase the best conservation solutions for export, in order to increase competitiveness in international markets.
While the main auction will only take place this and the next weekends of Liwa Dates Auction, October 5 - 7 and October 12 - 14, all other events, including the e-auction, will go on throughout the event.
"The Liwa Dates Auction did not come to life by chance, as it reflects and responds to the expectations of the sector and all those interested in growing date palms in the UAE. The auction, in fact, aims at opening new marketing channels and providing farmers with an opportunity to make larger profits from the production of luxurious dates," stressed Mr. Al Mansouri.