Dialogue : Shoeab Abdel fattah
** Popular activities imparted good repute about the Emirati heritage, highlighting its special status among world folk heritage
** Sultan Bin Zayed Heritage Festival carved its name on the slate of history and entrenched notions of genuine patriotism
** Samalia, the most magnificent nature reserve in the world, could converge the UAE citizens under the umbrella of patriotism, belonging and loyalty to the wise leadership
** Emirati heritage tourism is at the peak, and Emirati Heritage Club holds the banner of genuine traditions
Mr. Saeed Ali Al Manaei’s excessive love for his job and his constant interest in innovation in relation to heritage issues, being one of the broadest fields in Emirati ancient and contemporary culture, drove him to believe that the past is the bright image of the present. Mr. Al Manaei holds the post of head of activities at the Emirati Heritage Club, and since his access to the post, he has worked hard, taking into account the importance of instilling values of loyalty and belonging in the minds of Emirati citizens.
In an interview with Emirates Tourism, Al Manaei affirmed that genuine Emirati popular heritage has entrenched heritage tourism, and contributed in attracting visitors from around the world to the age-old history of the Emirates. He added that it has revealed that national customs and traditions represented the bright aspect that dazzles tourists. For, heritage festivals, camel races and equestrian activities, maritime races, archery, female handicrafts, and Heritage Club activities have made history on the slate of Emirati tourism, intertwining all the aspects of heritage within the reach of visitors and foreign tourists.
How do you view Emirati tourism under the umbrella of Emirati heritage?
The UAE currently ranks top on the ladder of world tourism by dent of its open horizon and broad sky that gives shade to different nationalities. The munificent spaciousness of the Emirati land is imparted by the heritage monuments that embodya wonderful scene, accurately reflectingboth the past and the present and illustrating how ancestors and forefathers lived in the past. Emirati Heritage Club, under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan – Chairman of Emirates Heritage Club and representative of H.H. President of the State, bears the banner of such heritage. Hence, heritage festivals and events constitute a front that expresses popular heritage in its most sublime sense. This has contributed to the emergence of unique heritage tourism, given that the UAE enjoys heritage landmarks of a special nature.
How did heritage festivals contribute to the emergence of heritage tourism?
The Heritage Club launches and oversees many festivals almost around the year, and such festivals attract visitors from the four corners of the world, be they residents or tourists, who approach especially to participate in such festivals. It also attracts heritage enthusiasts, who come from the Gulf States, from the Arab world, and from the numerous other countries around the world. Undoubtedly, the success of these festivals has imparted good repute about the Emirati folk heritage, highlighting its peculiarity and unique status among the world folk heritages. Among the festivals that win intensive mass presence, with a large number of tourists from around the world being keen to attend it, is Sultan Bin Zayed Heritage Festival, which has carved its name in the nation’s memory and entrenched notions of genuine patriotism.
What about the events that attract tourists and visitors to such festivals?
Such events are numerous and distinguished since they are dedicated to collecting the givens and constituents of the Emirati heritage in one place, which lends it luminance and a rare civilizational manifestation quite unavailable in many similar world festivals. The events include the popular market, which is a distinctive feature of every forum. For, it highlights theEmirati products in an unprecedented manner, especially those frequently used by parents and ancestors, including domestic appliances that retain their luster (i.e. Jafeer and Mikhrafa [baskets made of fronds], Mishabba [food cover], Sarud [table made of woven palm leaves]), as well as other appliances made of woven palm leaves. Moreover, concerts of vocal music that are heldon the sidelines of heritage festivals contribute to that attraction of Arab audience from outside the country. Camel races,camel milking races, etc., are among the main features that attract visitors of all nationalities.
Marine environment had a special status in the ancient life. What lends renewed interest in it now?
Emirati sailors registered an impressive presence in UAE history, enduring stormy seas and fluctuating weather to earn living. Then, marine environment was a key source of income for the Emiratis, who assumed the different sorts of fishing and pearl hunting occupations. Such environment thus constituted an integral element in the life of our ancestors, producing a highly rich world. Hence, the preceding generations were experts in building ships and boats of all forms and for all uses. It was a world full of wonderful sea stories. They could make fishnets, fish trapsand other diving tools.
Emirates Heritage Club is keen to presentvivid images of such features for current generations, knowing that many artisans who had assumed such marine occupationsin its full sense are still available to conduct special workshops for residentsand visitors. It is worth noting that foreign tourists admire such marine environment, detecting the ancient Emirati values it embodies and the life of suffering that the Emirati ancestors had endured to overcome such difficult living conditions.