ABU DHABI // Fragrances of oud wafted through the air as Syrian baklava wrapped in packets was bought by eager customers.
Traditional, embroidered Arab dresses were being sold alongside off-shoulder embellished gowns and silver jewellery.
A motley mix of items, clothing and toys was on sale at the Ramadan and Eid Festival at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).
Thousands of visitors have flocked to the indoor bazaar, which opened its doors on July 12 and closes on Saturday, to avoid the intense summer heat. More than 500 vendors displayed their wares – from shoes to trinkets to furniture and carpets.
“It is great that the exhibition is being held at an air-conditioned venue, as it is too hot to roam around outside,” said Umm Jasen, who attended the festival with her two children.
Now in its ninth year, the festival also featured concerts and traditional Arab music and dance performances during the Holy Month.
“We have a footfall of 4,000-5,000 people a day during weekdays and around 7,000 people on Fridays and Saturdays. There are more than 500 stalls,” said Ayman Ghaly, marketing manager at Royal Show Expo, which collaborated with Al Mutaqa to organise the festival.
“This year is different as we have a larger number of stalls and many people from Europe are also selling goods here.”
Foisal Ahmed, a shopkeeper from Bangladesh, was busy selling seeds of different varieties.
“The seeds are from Egypt. Chips and vegetable snacks are very popular,” said Mr Ahmed, who had been coming to the festival for many years.
Mothers made a beeline for the stall selling handmade shoes with paisley designs, for their young ones.
Savanna Bongat, a shop assistant at one stall, said: “The shoes are made with material from Italy. This Ramadan, people preferred to wear colourful shoes and, thus, vibrant patterns were the flavour of the season. Our designs vary according to the season.”
Flat shoes were priced at about Dh180 and high heels at Dh350.
“High heels are very popular with customers,” said Ms Bongat.
Mr Rbeeah, from Syria, was selling traditional oud from Bahrain. Different kinds of cheese, jam and pickles from Lebanon were also on sale.
One parent said the organisers of next year’s festival might want to look at play areas for children, many of whom were running around in between stalls.
“There is no kids’ section or play areas for kids here,” said Umm Jasen as she pushed a pram with her sleeping baby. “If we want to leave our children in a play area and go shopping, we cannot do that.”
Throughout the festival, visitors have had the chance to participate in a lucky draw to win a Kia car.
The winner will be announced on Saturday at 10pm.
The festival was sponsored by Abu Dhabi Media, owner and publisher of The National.
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(via The National)