Dating back to the mid-20th century and founded by the late Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan on the palm-lined road linking Al Ain’s Al Qattara and Al Jimi oases, the historic Souq Al Qattara has been renovated and re-opened.
A Traditional Handicrafts Market takes place here every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from October to May, encouraging local families to preserve and promote Abu Dhabi’s heritage through an active production of traditional handicrafts.
The Souq is linked to the redeveloped Al Qattara Fort, now home to a popular arts centre, featuring hundreds of modern exhibits, workshops, a cafe and a library.
Souq Al Qattara Festival
Many cultural and traditional events take place as part of the Souq Al Qattara Festival, including traditional handicrafts, Al Ayala performances, authentic building techniques and rope making allowing visitors of all ages to enrich their experience.
The 18-shop Souq specialises in selling traditional products such as women’s and men’s traditional clothing, housewares, spices, camping and falconry equipment.
The Souq has a specialised shop by women on Al Khos, where visitors can learn everything about this traditional handicraft. It also has a traditional café and grocery store.
The Souq will also host seminars on UAE heritage and archaeological sites in Al Ain, painted art works and photography exhibitions, as well as a number of activities for children and families.
Adjacent to Souq Al Qattara, this traditional market held on Fridays every week displays a variety of handmade products, and is built out of palm leaves to reflect the traditions of the past.
The Friday Market aims to develop producers’ skills, promote their work and foster productive families by providing financial and moral support as well as enhancing the role of Emirati women who are engaged in traditional crafts. The Souq has 30 internal shops and 20 external ones.
Al Qattara Arts Centre
The only purpose-built arts centre in the Oasis City, TCA Abu Dhabi opened the centre as part its efforts to develop Al Qattara oasis and to establish a centre for art and cultural studies for all Emiratis. Many events are held at the Souq and the Arts Centre throughout the festival season.
To achieve a balance between tradition and modernity, the centre has maintained many authentic aspects even after restoration, which is one of the major challenges in the efforts to conserve culture with all its original glory.
The Traditional Handicrafts Festival
The Traditional Handicrafts Festival and Exhibition is an annual ceremony in Al Ain, showcasing traditional crafts. It highlights the handicrafts trade from across the UAE, and defines, preserves and promotes traditional crafts and industries as a source of national income. The festival also serves as an opportunity to promote traditional Emirati handicrafts to inspire younger generations to uphold the tradition by underlining its importance and its need to be preserved as an integral part of Emirati national identity.
Date: 29 October – 7 November 2015
UAE Flag Day Celebrations
Souq Al Qattara celebrates UAE Flag Day because it embodies a group of values, including national unity represented by the solidarity of the seven emirates under one flag and leader, which enhances loyalty and sense of belonging among community members.
UAE National Day Celebrations
Souq Al Qattara hosts the UAE National Day Celebrations with a variety of events, folklore shows and music concerts all around Souq Al Qattara that are free for the public.
The Souq hosts a variety of evening folklore shows with dedicated teams performing Al Harbia and Al Ayala dances every Thursday and Friday from November to May.
The Emirati kitchen has distinctive characteristics defined by a rich culinary tradition. The keenness of grandmothers and mothers to transfer their expertise in preparing and serving authentic dishes to younger generations has kept the traditions of the Emirati kitchen alive.
Games are an integral part of every nation’s customs. Games, songs, language and natural environmental materials are vital tributaries that define a nation’s heritage. Despite the differences in the name or some details of the games, they are cherished by the community for their educational content.
The Souq’s Context
The Souq contains several shops showcasing hunting and equestrian tools, women’s and men’s attire, sweets, dates, honey, grocery, spices, perfumes, souvenirs and incense, along with many shops displaying local products.
The main Majlis is the place to welcome guests and visitors with the customary Emirati generosity and hospitality. While sipping Arabic coffee and sampling dates, the visitors can also learn here about the Souq's initiatives and projects.
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