Pakistani expat Stephen Ilyas and his Vietnamese friend Lucy.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The 18th edition of Sharjah Heritage Days, taking place in the historic Heart of Sharjah district, has festival goers enthralled with the unique customs and traditions of the UAE and 29 other countries.
Visitors at the festival expressed their joy and surprise at being able to witness aspects of Emirati and global cultural traditions up close and in a way they hadn’t before.
Emirati Khaled Mohammed was at SHD after visiting the Khorfakkan Heritage Days. He found it terrific and specially made the visit to Sharjah to see more of the events and activities here. “I’ve come all the way from Khorfakkan with my family to enjoy and explore Sharjah Heritage Days here in the Heart of Sharjah. I have my friends here with me as well, and I’m introducing them to all the Emirati crafts and traditional games that our parents played.” The 16-year-old said: “We are very proud of our heritage, and it makes us more so when we see so many nationalities here learning about our old crafts and traditional way of living, and enjoying our folk dances like Ayyala.”
Pakistani expat Stephen Ilyas and his Vietnamese friend Lucy were posing for photos with the falcons and said they were enjoying the eclectic mix of local cultures and traditions on display at Sharjah Heritage Days. “It’s the first time we are experiencing a festival like this in the UAE,” the Sharjah residents said. “Our friend recommended that we visit the event and we have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it, like the folkloric dances and the different pavilions showcasing the agriculture, sea and mountain environments of the UAE. We only see the modern side of the UAE and the festival is a good insight into how people here lived in the past and made the best use of natural resources available to them.”
Fanny Raess from Switzerland is visiting Sharjah Heritage Days for the second time, after enjoying the 2019 edition. “It’s lovely to see the culture of the emirates first-hand and we particularly enjoyed the traditional dances. I live here in Abu Dhabi, so I’m already quite familiar with the local culture. But it’s still nice to walk into this venue and witness the olden ways of living, compared to the modern lives we live here.
“We loved the Bedouin Village and Heritage Crafts Village where the women are engaged in different traditional activities like basket-weaving to kohl-making,” said Fanny, who was accompanied by her friend.
For Iraqi resident Zahra Khalil Ibrahim, visiting SHD is a must. “Over the years, I’ve been a regular visitor to the event because I love exploring the participating countries and learning about their cultures and traditions. I’ve come here with my best friends and enjoyed the local sweets and the beautiful weather.” She and her 20-year-old daughter enjoyed the theatre shows, and even won valuable prizes in competitions, including a perfume set and an iPhone!
Mark and Ilse Stutzman had just entered the festival a few minutes ago. “We were at the country pavilion area and really enjoyed all the traditional crafts on display – it is quite the learning experience to relate each item to the heritage and past of that country,” said Ilse, who is South African. “Now, we’re heading to see the local dance performances, as we’ve heard a lot about those from friends who visited Sharjah Heritage Days in the last few days,” said Mark, who is from the US. The couple live in Ras Al Khaimah with their three children, who were excited about visiting the ‘Horror House’ at SHD featuring spooky characters from Emirati folklore.
Exploring UAE’s four environments at SHD got 26-year-old Mohammed Hassan and his compatriots homesick: “The crafts here are similar to those in my country. The event and the atmosphere here remind me of Egypt because we share a similar heritage.” The first-time visitor lauded the efforts of the organisers in highlighting Emirati heritage: “The local traditional dances were amazing, and seeing Emirati craftsmanship such as rope-making and baskets weaved from palm was amazing,” Mohammed said. The first-time visitor said he would be back again to enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Mark and Ilse Stutzman, with their three children, were excited about visiting the ‘Horror House’ at Sharjah Heritage Days featuring spooky characters from Emirati folklore
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