A Celebration to Behold! Qasr Al Hosn Festival 2016 (ABDB Travelogue)

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What luck - our holiday coincides with the amazing annual Qasr Al Hosn Festival that is meant to celebrate the Fort’s status as a historic monument and community hub, in honour of the UAE’s founders and their visionary leadership. Running from 3 - 13 Feb 2016, this beautiful festival is easily the most well-organized, generous festivals I have ever attended, located at Qasr Al Hosn, the cultural heart of the Abu Dhabi city. 2016 is the fourth time that this festival have been hosted, with a vibrant panoply of cultural activities, performances, interactive exhibitions, light shows. There is not a moment of quiet at this festival with the exciting line-up!



Festival tickets go at AED10 (~SGD4), with 2 activity passes for you to choose what you wished to do. There is camel riding, bamboo engineering, gardening, pottery, and even cooking class. We could even try out some of the Emirati sweets, watch the ongoing stream of performances... it was such jolly good fun! Let's go let's go! 😄😄😄

 
 

Look at the parents have a go at their favourite activity - gardening! The lady at the booth was teaching them how to water and take care of the plants. We could even bring the plants home!

 

We wandered around to see this medicinal herbs booth where the booth owner was telling us seriously about the healing properties of each type of herb native to Abu Dhabi, and even tested us about it after that!


I was most curious about the Colocynth, which looked like mini watermelons (they are not). They are used to treat constipation, liver, and gallbladder problems.

 
 


More extensive displays and performances around the area showcasing Arabic culture and lifestyles with over nine thousand families being led by 630 traditional cast and demonstration experts. It was a wonderful experience and particularly memorable because they were all very elaborately demonstrated to us. There was even a 'wedding procession' on camels that meandered through the festival at some point. Everything happened so quickly, I wished I could slowly appreciate it. It felt almost like an Arabic-themed Universal Studios.


A military procession march-past us and then they proceeded to show us how the salute is done.


We gathered round to try the Emirati sweets - luqaimat, raghagh, and the chubab. They were all very sugary sweet, but interestingly they are all sweet in different ways. The luqaimat are the ball-shaped fried dumplings in the bowl, sweet dates flavoured, with sesame seeds around it. They are semi-crunchy on the outside and mashy inside. I haven't had anything like that before so it really tingles my tastebuds! Next, the raghagh refers to the crispy-wafer-thin Emirati bread, which is my favourite even though it is so messy to eat. It is very fragrant and with the honey-date syrup, it is just perfect. The chubab is the mini round pancakes that are of a perfect golden colour. By itself it is rather plain but with the honey-date syrup, it is delectable and delicious. It is a really short and sweet 😳 initiation to what Emirati sweets are.

(OK a very Singaporean comment but: omg it was free / part of the cheap ticket price / so happy)

 

The contrast of the beautiful architecture against the sparkly modern buildings around Qasr Al Hosn makes for a photographer's heaven. And I snap away, capturing snaps to document the festival through my eyes.

 

The ladies in our group all went to do the final activity - getting our hair tied up in traditional Arabic fashion! We got a simple henna done as well - which essentially freezes up our hands from touching anything else for a good 30 minutes to an hour. The women helping us to tie our hair were really, really proficient, taming my hair into these braids with just two black hair ties. 😍


A final picture to end the post... I have this picture in my camera because I was talking one of the younger ladies in the tent to help her tie our braids with the pretext of trying to find out... WHAT MASCARA DOES SHE USE. Because if you've been close enough to an Emirati girl, her lashes are always flourishing. The thing is, it doesn't look fake like extensions, nor does it look plasticky. It's always so natural, flowing and gravity-defying. So there you have it. Bourjois Push Up Mascara. And she says that most of her friends are using this too. She kindly searched for me on her phone and allowed me to take a picture of it too, and now I am spreading the love.

We went for an interactive light display to talk about the history of Abu Dhabi thereafter, but it was crowded and dark to take pictures so no pictures for this part of our adventure! The Abu Dhabi Qasr Al Hosn Festival 2016 was beautifully organized and executed, kudos to the team behind the festival. We had a great time here. 
❤   

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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @amie.hu and Facebook page!

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