Ayeni Olusegun | The Peninsula
The 6th Local Dates Festival kicked off yesterday at Al Ahmad Square, Souq Waqif, as sellers and visitors hailed organisers for holding the event this year at the historical market.
The festival last year was held in partnership with Al Meera due to the restrictions in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will continue until July 30 and will be open daily from 4pm to 10pm.
The festival tent has been built to host 720 people at once over 3,600 square metres. The opening day saw a remarkable turnout — expected to increase as the festival continues. The Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) had earlier stated that the festival would feature a significant variety of dates from over 80 local farms across Qatar.
The dates prices are being regulated by the Authorities to ensure control and prevent consumer exploitation. Speaking to The Peninsula, one of the participating farms said this year’s event with customer interaction, despite COVID-19 preventive measures, would help drive sales compared to last year.
“It is good to have this festival in open space again. For a seller, customer interaction is important to drive sales and encourage many farms after a challenging 2020. We are glad the Ministry decided to host it again this year, and hopefully, we will gradually return to normal activities,” the seller said.
Meanwhile, Yousef Al Taher, one of the participants at the festival, while speaking to Qatar TV, said: “The festival opened today and will continue until July 30. It is important to hold this festival at Souq Waqif because it is a heritage place and one of Qatar’s historic landmarks.
“The festival is a chance for farms to showcase their products and visitors to buy fresh dates as if it from palms directly.” To promote healthy produce from the participants, the Organising Committee of the festival has set requirements for the dates offered for sale.
For instance, the Rutab has to be ripe and mature. The product must be fresh and bugfree and have no unusual smell or taste. Some of the Qatari dates being sold include Al Ikhlas, Al Shishi, Al Khenaizi dates, and Al Barhi. Others include Al Iraqi, Al Selaji, Al Sukkari, Al Saqi, Al Zaghioul, Nabat Seif, Al Lolo, Al Helail, Al Rzizi and Al Kabkab.
The festival was established to promote Qatari agricultural products in line with the MME’s marketing programme to improve these products and incentivise farms to use advanced technology to raise production quality and quantity.