The participation of the United Arab Emirates at Morocco’s 10th edition of Tan-Tan Moussem Festival has been a staggering success as the Gulf State’s desert culture and heritage activities have drawn thousands of visitors.
The UAE is the guest of honour of the Festival which was inscribed on the UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Thousands of visitors have flocked to Emirati tents where they learned about the Gulf state’s authentic cultural heritage.
Experts from the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and the Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee – Abu Dhabi have brought a large portfolio of activities to the Festival in order to introduce the UAE’s heritage to the Moroccan public.
Some of the UAE’s activities were held in the tents at the Peace and Tolerance Square, one kilometre away from Tan-Tan while others took place in different venues in the city.
The tent activities included workshops specialised in Sadu (traditional weaving), Al Khous (weaving from palm fronds), authentic Emirati Telly (embroidery), poetry recitation and Emirati folk arts.
Other activities, including painting and book exhibitions, singing and a participation in “the International Conference on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Desert and Semi-desert Regions” were held in different venues of the city as part of the Festival’s rich programme which was held June 4-9.
Emirati impressionist Bodour Al Ali took part in the painting exhibition last Saturday at the hall of the Municipal Palace.
“I’m thrilled to represent my country in this important event as this is my first painting exhibition in the Arab world,” said the humble UAE artist.
Bodour’s paintings depicted Emirati folklore and Bedouin life besides the symbols of the desert life that are highlighted by camels and falcons.
“Al Ali’s paintings are impressive. They clearly reflect most of the themes that we saw in the UAE tents,” said Laghdaf Ould Abdallah who came from Laayoune to attend the Festival.
A heritage book fair, which included publications of the National Library and the Poetry Academy, was also held alongside a painting exhibition and a conference on intangible heritage at the Municipal palace.
The International Conference on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Desert and Semi-desert Regions witnessed the intervention of Ghassan Al Hassan, Advisor at the Poetry Academy in Abu Dhabi and Ali Awad Saleh, Foreign Relations Advisor at the Abu DhabiTourism and Heritage Authority.
Morocco’s Prince Moulay Rachid visits UAE tents
His Royal Highness Moroccan Prince Moulay Rachid, accompanied by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, visited on Saturday Emirati tents where he was invited to drink Arabian coffee and eat the finest Emirati dates which are the symbol of Emirati hospitality.
HRH Moulay Rachid sat for a while with HH Sheikh Hamdan before touring the rest of the neighbouring Morocco’s Sahrawi tents. Then, they went to the official tent where the Moroccan Prince presided the official ceremony.
His Royal Highness handed to HH Sheikh Hamdan the Best Breeder Award which consists of two female dromedaries offered by the Agricultural Chamber of the Guelimim-Smara region.
“It is such a great honour to receive HRH Prince Moulay Rachid in our tents along with HH Sheikh Hamdan,” said Abdullah Al-Qubaisi, Director of Project Management at the Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee – Abu Dhabi.
“The visit strengthens the cultural ties between the two brotherly countries,” said Qubaisi, adding that he was overwhelmed by the number of people who had visited Emirati tents.
As the ceremony was nearing its end, the Moroccan Prince and HH Sheikh Hamdan watched “Tbourida” (the gunpowder play on horses) and camel parades.
Folkloric atmosphere to a packed audience
On Sunday, While UAE women were busy serving loqaimate (rounded doughnuts) and pancakes to curious visitors, others were watching both Emirati and Moroccan dancing troupes perform together at one stage to the joy of a packed audience.
One common feature was the poetry they were both singing and dancing to although the dialects were different.
“I always dreamed of watching live traditional Khaleeji (Gulf) music. My dream has come true,” said Khadija El Hassani who could be seen singing with them.
“This edition is quite special compared to the previous ones because of the UAE’s participation which broke the Festival’s routine”, noted the 34-year old El Hassani.
Rhymes under the moonlight
Later, Emirati and Moroccan poets gathered in the UAE tent to warm the audience with Nabati and Hassani poems in the breezy desert night under the moonlight and the glitzy stars.
Poets Obaid Qazlan Al Mazrouei, Mohammed bin Hamed Al Minhali and Hussein Bin Mosaid represented the UAE.
“The rapprochement between Moroccan and UAE heritage is reflected in those wonderful scenes of hospitality that we have witnessed among the region’s inhabitants,” said Obaid Qazlan Al Mazrouei.
“We see this poetry night as a good omen and a threshold to the development and exchange of knowledge about the two kinds of poetry and an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of our mutual ties," added Mazrouei.
Baynunah TV present in the Festival
The Abu Dhabi-based Baynunah satellite TV channel broadcast most of the Festival’s activities live from Tan-Tan.
“We were surprised to find out that most of our audience is from Tan-Tan,” said Rasha Wanes, Director of activities at Baynunah TV.
“The four-hour coverage of the carnival was successful despite some difficulties that we encountered with sky’s light as the clouds were moving fast,” said Wanes.
“I think the tent exhibitions of both Morocco and the UAE have had a significant influx of visitors which has had a positive feedback from our TV viewers,” she added.