Posted on July 21, 2018

The third local dates festival got off to a great start as the opening day of the event - Thursday - drew thousands of visitors and saw sales exceeding 12 tonnes of dates, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) informed on Friday.

The festival at Souq Waqif was inaugurated by HE the Minister of Municipality and Environment Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi in the presence of a number of ambassadors from various embassies in Doha, dignitaries and other guests. The opening day of the festival attracted some 3,500 visitors and saw sales of 12,317kg of various types of dates, the MME said in a press statement on Friday. These included 6,196kg of Khalas dates, 2,582kg of Khanizi, 2,371kg of Shishi and 1,144kg of Barhi dates, among others. 

A total of 73 local farms are participating in this year's festival, an increase of 13 compared to last year. The 17-day festival is open to the public daily from 4pm to 10pm until August 4. Sheikh Faleh bin Nasser al-Thani, Assistant Undersecretary for Agriculture Affairs and Fisheries at the MME, said the ministry has entered into a contract with a private local company to start growing palm tree saplings. He informed that the current production amounts to 20,000 saplings a year (premium varieties), while the targeted figure is 100,000 that is intended to be reached within the next two years. 

Further, Sheikh Faleh noted that local dates production has increased considerably this year and has been steadily growing year on year to cater to the local requirements and meet the demand for all types of dates. He also expected the import of dates to be limited to rare varieties that cannot be grown in the country - such as those produced in some North African nations. In addition, local dates are being exported to some countries, it was observed. More than 175 tonnes - 175,430kg - of different types of dates were sold at a total price of QR1.3mn during the second dates festival last year, which also attracted some 87,000 visitors comprising locals, residents and tourists.

The ministry had earlier stressed that the festival forms part of its efforts to maintain Qatar’s rich cultural heritage and attract more tourists, apart from encouraging local farmers to preserve and develop their palm trees and keep them in the best shape possible.

source: Gulf Times