Dates are the most popular fruit in the region, and have almost sacred value among the locals. Dates are the first thing that’s allowed to be eaten on Iftar during the Ramadan – something that characterizes the importance of this product pretty well. Its value is so considerable, there are even special events dedicated to them held on a regular basis, like the Sharjah Date Festival.
In 2019, the first edition of Sharjah Date Festival took place, and judging by the successful results, it has all the chances to become a regular in the emirate. The event was held under the patronage of Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and was organized by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It took place at the Expo Centre Sharjah.
During the festival, manufacturers and sellers of dates from all over the region gather together to showcase their products and communicate with buyers and industry colleagues. Manufacturers bring their products straight from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, and others, and surprisingly – each and every country have it’s own distinctive shape, color and shape of dates.
Producers and sellers of dates are given the opportunity to open new markets and attract investment in this industry. The date market in the UAE is developing rapidly, with their production exceeding 500 hundred thousand tons in 2018. Dates grown in the UAE are exported to 45 countries around the world and their sale is an important component of export earnings. From year to year, the UAE becomes one of the ten largest producers of dates and dates-related products in the world.
Visiting the festival you will be surprised how many types of these incredibly healthy and nutritious delicacies exist – several hundred types of dates, each delicious in its own way! At the festival, guests can try different varieties of dates, take part in culinary masterclasses and competitions, admire the works of art associated with these unique fruits, learn a lot of new information about the history of dates and the significance of dates and palm trees in the history of Sharjah and other emirates.
This event is not limited to the production and sale of dates. The traditions associated with this product and its place in the heritage of modern Arabs are also widely celebrated. As mentioned before, example of the traditional use of dates is that they are used as the first food for breaking the fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Such a tradition was started by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and is supported by Muslims with great respect. It is no wonder that in 2019, the Sharjah Date Festival was held immediately before the beginning of Ramadan since it is at this time that the demand for dates is growing because they are revered as one of the main and traditional products for those who fast.
Dates and palm trees played an important role in the development of the entire region for millennia, as evidenced by archaeological excavations. The survival of the first settlers of the region depended largely on palm trees. The importance of date palms is so high for Arab culture that they are even mentioned in the Quran. For example, dates are recommended for pregnant women.
Dates and palm trees are a kind of symbol of the culture of the UAE and other countries of the MENA region. And festivals like the Sharjah Date Festival help honor the common rich cultural heritage and promote the development of the industry, forging cultural and economic ties with the world.