Here are 11 things you need to know about the UAE’s most famous fruit ahead of the Liwa Date Festival…
Words by Ayesha Ghaffar
Date balsamic vinegar, date syrup, date flapjack, date chutney, orange and date bread. Dates in cereal, cake, bread and even on pizza. The only end to the versatility of the humble date is the creativity of the culinary mind.
The UAE’s most well-known and beloved produce certainly packs a punch and whether that is to help Muslims break their fast during Ramadan or as part of a traditional greeting on entering a home or a five-star hotel, we can’t get enough of the sweet and chewy delights.
With the annual Liwa Date Festival taking place on 17th July, we set out to find some juicy facts about the energy-packed morsels:
- Dates grow in abundance in the Middle Eastern and North African regions and their cultivation history is recorded for as early as 4,000 BCE in ancient Arabia.
- Historically, nomads and Bedouin travellers carried dates with them as food for survival because they can be stored conveniently and used for many years without the risk of getting stale.
- Dates are also known as ‘fruit of the desert’.
- There are more than 200 date varieties. Medjool is the hardest to grow and thus one of the most expensive.
- The average human could survive on 15 dates a day (along with water) as they provide the body with necessary minerals and vitamins (although we wouldn’t advise you try it).
- Date palms are known to live as long as 150 years.
- All parts of the date palm have been used to produced economic value from material for furniture and rope to even being used as fuel and the sap can be extracted for use as a beverage.
- The UAE alone produces approximately 900,000 tonnes of dates annually.
- Approximately 98 percent of all fruit trees in the UAE are date palms with more than 199 types of dates which are found in the country. The most popular are Dabbas, Khenaizi and Lulu.
- Dates are rich with vitamins A, B and D along with fiber, minerals and antioxidants.
- The pits of the fruit are used to make soap and eyeliners.
To further educate tourists and expats about Emirati culture and heritage, the Liwa Date Festival is organised annually. As part of the event farmers compete with one another to take home the title of ‘Best Date Grower’.
It’s one of the most significant heritage and tourism events in the capital which not only hosts competitions but date auctions which see different dates sold for as much as AED 6,000 per kg, workshops for children, poetry recitals, lectures that help create awareness about dates and palm trees, among other activities.
Free. 17th July – 27th July, daily 4pm-10pm. Liwa, Al Dhafra region. abudhabiculture.ae