ABU DHABI // It is rare for the “soul and spirit” of a city to be shown as it was at the conclusion of the Mother of the Nation Festival on Monday.
The celebrations ended with fireworks that excited thousands of visitors, followed by a recognition of orphans for the Arab Orphans Day.
The festival, which was produced in partnership with non-profit organisations, provided a stage for orphans to read poetry, and gave children opportunities to solve riddles and win prizes.
“This is really what the soul and spirit of Abu Dhabi is about,” said Umm Abdulla, an Emirati mother who took her son and daughter to the festival for the second day in a row on Monday.
“We want to showcase everything our city has while also making sure that we have purpose around the world. It’s really beautiful.”
The second Mother of the Nation Festival, organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, extended over more than a kilometre. It celebrates Sheikha Fatima’s vision for social empowerment in the UAE.
Festival organisers catered for interests and activities that ranged from jiu-jitsu classes and ziplining to chess matches, concerts and discussions about the role of women in society.
■ In pictures: Mother of the Nation Festival ends in Abu Dhabi
Leo Rojas, a Venezuelan father of two, said this was the second year his family attended the event. They found activities for all of them to enjoy.
“I came last year and we had a great time. This year it’s just amazing,” said Mr Rojas, an Abu Dhabi resident of six years.
“I wish they would keep it year-round. It’s something that the entire family is enjoying, but my son has really enjoyed the Bambajam sessions.”
The Bambajam is a stage for participants to perform with non-traditional bamboo instruments under the guidance of Duncan McKee, a professional jazz musician.
“To get the opportunity to share in that great moment when music comes together and to be a part of it is what we’re trying to achieve here,” said Mr McKee.
For those who were less musically inclined, lectures and discussions were taking place in majlises along the Corniche. These included Majlis: Interactive Conversations, which offers talks, presentations and workshops on concepts to inspire the youth.
The discussion topics touched on family, fashion, nutritional habits, lifestyle and the empowerment of women. Visitors were invited to learn from experts and women role models from the UAE and the region.
“You get a lot of chances to attend mind-enriching events in the UAE, but to have it in such a casual context and to be able to come in and out – that’s something that I think is very special to this event,” said Mohammed Al Mazroui, an Emirati civil servant.
Installations of UAE history were on display at the Mother of the Nation Pavilion. They paid tribute to generations of women who have shaped the UAE.
To ensure that visitors engaged with lessons on conservation, Tarsheed Village hosted educational activities for families, guiding them through challenges regarding the scarcity of resources and teaching them to conserve energy and water.