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  • Writer's pictureLiz Totton

Daily Photo–Date Day?

Behold the Biggest and Most All Encompassing Date-Tasting Competition in the World!

Yes, it was right here in the Abu Dhabi. Well it’s kind of about an hour and a half away, but it’s still Abu Dhabi. “Desurban Sprawl,” I tell you. Get it–Desert-suburban-urban sprawl? Even if you don’t get it, the desert, suburbs and city here are intertwined. In my experience, it takes moments to get out of the city or suburbs and into the desert, but it takes a lot longer to get somewhere for an authentic desert experience that is approachable for westerners.

Back in December when we traveled far and wide for the Camel Beauty Pageant, we stumbled upon the Date Competition. What? You think you don’t like dates?! Did I hear you right? Well that’s what my other half said when he walked into that tent–only to depart a half hour later–with a newfound appreciation for this succulent desert treat. He actually found a variety or two that he loved, after he tried about 40 at the urging of one of the Festival guides. How can you say no?!

With the same vigor some forty somethings approach so-called “Date Night” abroad, the UAE embraces Date Day: the actual Day of Judgement for local date growers. We, luckily, stumbled upon this tent the day we visited the Camel Festival in Al Dhafra. There were primitive, locally woven baskets brimming with freshly picked dates all from different plantations set out for tasting and judgement. Every passerby was asked in to taste and learn the derivation, quality and let’s say “terroir” of every contestant’s batch. In the same way, westerners speak of grapes for wine, Emirati farmers speak of dates for, well, “fruit’s sake”?

I have no idea which farmer or what date won the contest, but I can say this tent will be a first stop next December. Dates have so many health benefits. Dudes, eat your dates! 

Date Competition, camel festival, Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi

Competing Dates

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