Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the 15th edition of Al Dhafra Festival will be held from 28 October, 2021 to 22 January, 2022.
His Highness issued directives to expand the festival to include camel mazayna (beauty contest) competitions in Sweihan, Razeen and Madinat Zayed, in addition to the principal mazayna competition at the Al Dhafra Festival site. He also ordered the total prize money at the festival to be increased to AED 110 million.
The 15th edition of the festival, which coincides with the country's Year of the 50th celebrations, is set to witness widespread interest and increased participation by camel owners in the UAE and GCC countries.
The directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan reflect the leadership's support for projects aimed at preserving and promoting UAE cultural heritage among future generations. The directives also serve to further develop heritage festivals, support and encourage camel owners to participate, and to acquire valuable, authentic Arab breeds. It also aims to support and encourage participation in falconry competitions, pure Arabian horse and traditional Arabian saluki races, archery, and falconry and ghanam al naim (sheep) mazayna. Increasing the prize money is also intended to boost camel breeding and camel racing, thus creating new job opportunities.
The aims of Al Dhafra Festival include: unifying criteria, terms, conditions, efforts and resources to achieve greater success in all mazayna competitions; increasing the number of participating camels; preserving pure camel breeds, and increasing demand for these breeds; contributing to the development of local and GCC tourism; stimulating economic activity; shedding light on the region; and strengthening Abu Dhabi's status as the destination for camel mazayna locally, regionally and internationally.
His Excellency Major General Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Commander-in-Chief, Abu Dhabi Police and Chairman of the Cultural and Heritage Festivals and Programs Committee – Abu Dhabi, praised the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which aim to develop Al Dhafra Festival, increase prize value, expand camel mazayna throughout the emirate of Abu Dhabi, and increase participation by camel owners.
His Excellency the Major General also stressed that the unlimited support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for projects preserving UAE heritage has positioned the emirate of Abu Dhabi as a unique model in terms of organising festivals and cultural and heritage programs, and further embedding this region's ancient history in the hearts of its people. Today, Abu Dhabi is the destination for owners of authentic Asayel and Majahim camel breeds, as well as an annual destination for camel mazayna.
His Excellency went on to say that the Cultural and Heritage Festivals and Programs Committee, with the support of the leadership, continues to follow in the footsteps of the founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, toward achieving his comprehensive vision of promoting culture, consolidating Emirati heritage and its values, and emphasising the role of Abu Dhabi in promoting interaction and cultural communication in an effort to spread the UAE’s message of humanity and peaceful coexistence around the world.
For his part, Issa Saif Al Mazrouei, Vice-Chairman of the Cultural and Heritage Festivals and Programs Committee - Abu Dhabi, explained the 15th Edition of Al Dhafra Festival will see four mazayna competitions; in Sweihan, Razeen, Madinat Zayed, and Al Dhafra Festival, during the 2021/2022 camel mazayna season in Abu Dhabi, with a total prize value of AED 110 million distributed over 313 rounds and 2,937 prizes.
Al Mazrouei added that this new edition to the festival will include the launch of the Bairaq Al Emarat Award for Asayel and Majahim camel breeds, with a prize value of AED 6 million. For the first time in mazayna competitions, prizes will be based on a new points system. The festival’s 15th edition will also witness new races for camel mazayna in two categories; hybrid and Wadh, as well as milking competition. These four mazayna competitions are set to witness the participation of over 13,000 camels.
Al Mazrouei also explained that Sweihan Mazayna will take place from 28 October to 3 November 2021, with total prize value exceeding AED10 million. Razeen Mazayna will take place from 25 November to 1 December 2021, with total prize value exceeding AED10 million. Madinat Zayed Mazayna will take place from 23 to 29 December 2021, with prizes amounting to over AED10 million. And finally, Al Dhafra Festival Mazayna will be held from 13 to 22 January 2022.
Al Mazrouei also pointed out that the heritage competitions will be held from 13 to 22 January 2022, at Al Dhafra Festival site in Zayed City. The festival will include 27 races, with total prize value of AED 110 million distributed over the following categories: Pure Arabian Horse Race, Falconry, Traditional Arabian Saluki Race, Falcon Mazayna, Arabian Saluki Mazayna, Archery, Ghanam Al Naim Mazayna (sheep beauty competition).
The Vice-Chairman of the Cultural and Heritage Festivals and Programs Committee - Abu Dhabi stressed that all participants and members of the supervisory committees will be subject to preventive and precautionary measures, in coordination with the relevant authorities in Abu Dhabi emirate. Additionally, festival entry shall be limited to those with negative PCR results received through Alhosn app, and those who have already received Covid-19 vaccinations. The organizing committee will also enforce precautionary measures including wearing masks, social distancing, temperature checks, and daily sterilization of all festival sites to ensure the safety of all.