A fisherman, with his forehead as shrivelled as prunes, takes you back to times gone by.
Raghib Hassan, Staff Reporter
While driving though the hustle and bustle of Sharjah, when you are about to reach the Heart of Sharjah heritage area, you get very different vibes. You get a feeling you have entered a totally different world. A world which either we all left behind long ago or might not have even experienced at all. Once you are there, then the totally different world of serenity and calmness welcomes you.
Though it is a place where time seems to stand still, it is actually full of life. Being here is simply rejuvenating and mesmerising. You feel you are not the part of the normal routine, which tires you. For one thing, you will discover people here have lots of time — they have either the time to stand and stare or have the hours to enjoy a leisurely walk.
By the time you realise what’s going on and wonder where you have landed — perhaps even question the transportation — you discover that you are witnessing celebration of the rich Arab cultural history — Sharjah Heriatge Days has just begun. Truly, the 18th edition of Sharjah Heritage Days, which will continue to enthrall visitors till April 10, offers us a journey back into time.
Under the slogan, “Culture Heritage Gather Us,” 29 countries, 22 government entities and 15 international and local folklore ensembles, are taking part.
As you enter, the sight of fishermen preparing fishing nets, different types and size of fishing boats, the procedure of making boats and equipment for pearl diving and middle-age shipwrights with their foreheads as shriveled as prunes, take you back to times gone by. Each is a reminder of our rich Arabian heritage and culture. Lanterns hanging from the walls of courtyards are sure memories for all of us of our childhood, when electricity was either not available or had not even reached us. The sight of Bedouin women, preparing traditional Emirati delicacies, are indeed a mouthwatering experience.
Seeing the method of fetching water from the well in olden times will make you give thanks as to how fortunate we are now, where we don’t need to struggle to get water.
You are sure not to miss the ancient irrigation system, Al Falaj, since it is profoundly visible. So is a booth of the Sharjah Police Head Quarters, in the middle of the heritage area, which is equally eye-catching. It is a favourite spot for many visitors, who can be seen clicking selfies here. But of course, the entire experience of being here is beyond the capacities of selfies.
Emirati visitors with their families, and ditto with expatriates, looked busy explaining the concept of Heritage Days to their curious kids. It is indeed good to remind them about the glorious past. Musical performances by local and visiting artists are simply mesmerising. Lots of song and dance performances keep visitors busy throughout the evening. Colourful and lively performances by global artists will make sure your visit is worthwhile — they enliven your mood as well.
Other major attractions are pavilions like World Heritage Village, which houses stalls from countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Kenya, Yemen, Morocco, Tajikistan and Maldives. Those interested in collecting souvenirs and momentos should visit this place. To give visitors a more comprehensive understanding, separate areas have been created, such as Sea Environment, Bedouin Environment and Mountain Environment.
Mohammed Moattar, a Sharjah resident who has been living in the Emirates for around a decade, is a first time visitor to the heritage area. Sharing his experience with Gulf Today he said: “The whole experience is mind-blowing. I was amazed to witness the cultural extravaganza. This is my first visit here in all these years, but I fell in love with the whole set up. I also appreciate Sharjah Government for organising such a wonderful event.”
Another visitor, Garima Singh, who looked busy making videos and taking selfies of the performing artists said that “I have been coming here for few years. “I love the vibes here. It is very rejuvenating. Today is my second day here, but I made sure to be here as early as possible. I came very early to spend more time. Walking around here makes me feel like I am walking in my own village.”
Rida Hasan, a school going Sharjah resident said: “It is amazing to come here. I didn’t know many things. I have just read about the history of the UAE in my textbook, and here when I come, I feel history comes alive. Good to see things from the past. I feel every student should come and spend time here. You get to learn a lot.” Considered perhaps the largest and longest celebration of local and global cultures in the UAE and the region, the festival is organised by the Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH), with the Republic of Montenegro being the Guest of Honour this time.
Apart from Montenegro, other participating nations include Belarus, Macedonia, Tajikistan, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Maldives, Yemen, Egypt, Italy, Spain, France, Sudan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Algeria, Syria, Kenya, Tunisia, Netherlands, Mauritania, Iraq, India and Bashkortostan, a republic of Russia.
Precautionary measures are in place to safeguard the health and safety of visitors and participants. Signs to maintain social distancing and sanitiser dispensers can be found almost everywhere. The number of visitors permitted to visit at a time in different pavilions are mentioned at the entrance itself to keep Covid-19 protocols and precautions in mind.
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