Sheikh Zayed Festival continues to emphasize its main objectives to preserve national identity by highlighting the depth of Emirati cultural heritage and to pass it on to future generations. The Festival fulfils its aims through many events, attractions and pavilions, the most prominent of which is the Heritage Village that features Emirati heritage and traditions.
The Heritage Village, located at the heart of the Sheikh Zayed Festival grounds, showcases the UAE’s heritage through a replica of the four main environments where the Emirati civilization settled and flourished: the marine environment, the desert environment, the mountain environment, and the agricultural environment. Each replica gives visitors glimpses of early life in the UAE through life-sized mock-ups that were created to reflect the realities of those environments.
The Heritage Village, which bears the message "Hayakom", meaning “Welcome” in Emirati dialect, is designed by the unique traditional architecture. The gates are models of military building designs from ancient times that served as protection from outside threats. The Heritage Village is an exceptional stop that takes visitors away from the present world and transport them to the simplicity of life in early times, with their mud and palm leaf houses that evokes nostalgia and conjures interest in the roots of UAE culture.
The Heritage Village is the fruit of cooperation between several government bodies that aim to preserve and showcase Emirati culture to the public. First, the General Women's Union providing women's workshops by several female experts in traditional handicrafts using yarn mills and weaving to produce a variety of textiles like Al Sadu, Talli, wool and weaving carpets. In addition, there are many other traditional crafts in the village that will remind new generations of life back in the old days.
The second participating government entity is the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, which focuses on showcasing products made by “citizen families” of its humanitarian programs. The Heritage Village is a perfect opportunity to promote the products by these families and hold traditional food competitions.
The Emirates Heritage Club also brings back the "Al Hadeera" where a group of senior citizens or Al Showab in Emirati dialect, will prepare traditional coffee the traditional way while surrounded by a wall made of palm leaves or "Leptadenia" in Emirati dialect, in addition to other trees such as Acacia tortilis and Ghaf Trees, which were also used to stabilize the wall of the construction and counter strong wind.
The "Al Hadeera" is an area that is open from one side that is not facing the wind to protect the seated people from dust and sand. The seating area was considered a sanctuary in winter to build a bonfire and prepare coffee, which was also the place where stories were told and memories were made. “Al Tawa” and “Al Mehmas” are the main tools used for roasting coffee. Al Tawa is made of iron and Al Mehmas is made of iron or copper and is used for mixing the coffee grains while roasting the coffee or to lift bread from a hot surface.
The third participating government entity is the Emirates Falconers Club, a group that will present falcons with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of falconry as a traditional and heritage art that brings together falconers in and out of the UAE, and they will also introduce to visitors various sustainable hunting methods and falconry ethics.
The fourth government entity to participate is Abu Dhabi's Arabian Saluki Centre, the first of its kind in the Arabian Gulf region and the Middle East, that showcases the greyhound (Saluki) breeds with the aim of reviving the hunting sport and training greyhounds for hunting, as well as educating people about their role in falconry, maintaining the purity of the gene pools of superior breeds, and providing those interested with the necessary knowledge and how to care for and train them.
The Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club is the last government entity to participate in bringing the events and attractions of the Heritage Village together. The Club showcases models of boats in the heart of the village with the aim of instilling passion for marine sports, appreciation for both traditional and modern boats, promoting the importance of marine sports and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
The Heritage Village features a UAE Heritage Studio that allows tourists and visitors to take memorable photos in traditional Emirati clothing for both women and men. The studio offers a traditional grocery shop, “Al Dukan”, which features all kinds of old food items that are nostalgic to Emiratis, and a henna tinting station where visitors can experience application of the oldest and most common cosmetic substance that is still in use today.
The Heritage Village has a wide variety of arts and crafts options like pottery, sharp tools and traditional garments to familiarize the public with the way of life of their Emirati ancestors.