All photos by Chantelle D’mello
In an effort to educate Qatar residents about the diversity of dates grown here, the Ministry of Environment and agriculture investment firm Hassad Foods have been holding a three-day date festival at Ezdan Mall.
The event was launched on Thursday, and is located on the ground floor of the mall. It will run from 4pm to 9pm through today. Some 20 varieties of of dates, all picked from local farms in the country, are on display at the festival.
Residents who attend are invited to taste these dates, and learn more about aspects of date farming and palm tree germination.
Speaking to Doha News, a Ministry of Environment representative at the event on Friday said:
“The point of this is to educate people. Most of the dates that people in Qatar eat (some 70 percent) are actually grown in Qatar. This is the first time that we’re having a festival like this.”
She added that over five tons of dates had been set aside for distribution to the public over the weekend.
At the time Doha News visited, more than 50 people were visiting the exhibitions’ stalls, stopping for a hot cup of karak and indulging in the large assortment of dates that Qatar has to offer.
While some of the dates on display are available for sale at Lulu stores around Qatar, most are rare species that are not yet produced commercially.
Some, like Khasab and Tunisie, are not indigenous to the Gulf countries. According to another MoE official, they were brought in as seeds and saplings from countries in the Mediterranean and sown locally.
“This is the time for people to taste these dates,” the representative said. “They aren’t available in supermarkets or grocery stores because they are grown on private farms. We want people to learn about the many different types of dates we have, and have the opportunity to taste them.”
The dates differ in taste, color, size, thickness of skin, and carbohydrate and calorie count, among other specifications. Aside from Khasab and Tunisie, some of the varieties on display include Barhi, Daglagh Noor, Khlas, Lulu, Sukkari, Shishi, Ghur, Razeez, Hibri, Hilali, Shail, Sultanah, and Ghur.
QNA reports that the festival was the first of its kind in the country, and that plans are afoot to broaden the event next year to include the participation of date farmers.