ABU DHABI // Visitors from around the UAE and as far as Saudi Arabia and Oman came to Abu Dhabi for the opening day of the first Mother of the Nation Festival.
The 10-day event is being held on Abu Dhabi Corniche to honour Sheikha Fatima, who is Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation and head of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.
Adel Al Jabri, his wife and three-year-old daughter, Reema, came all the way from Oman on Thursday.
“We heard about it on the radio and decided to drive to Abu Dhabi to come to the festival. It’s a great event for the family to enjoy.”
Emirati Salem Mohammed, 25, told his friends in Saudi Arabia about the festival.
“This is better than our festivals back home. There is so much to do,” said Saudis Hamed Saleh and Ali Ahmed. They arrived two days ago to visit the festival and were waiting to get on the zip line.
The festival has several zones spread out over a large part of the Corniche. With live performances, activities, retail outlets and workshops appealing to all age groups, the festival was a hit from the very start, with visitors asking that it be extended.
“There is so much to do. Ten days isn’t enough. We have never had such an event in Abu Dhabi that is this diverse with so many things to do,” said Emirati Dalal Al Balouchi.
“The organisers have thought of everything. If you are not interested in art then there are activities, if not that then you can shop.
“Also, most us to like to sit and eat, and there are so many places where you can sit and have a bite,” she said.
While most came to enjoy the activities, there were many who came solely because they wanted to show and express their affection for the Mother of the Nation.
From a Dh5,000 home business six years ago, Amna Al Romaithy’s empire is estimated today to be worth Dh1 million, thanks to the support of Sheikha Fatima, she said.
“Sheikha Fatima is our sister, mother, friend – she is everything,” she said. “We wouldn’t be here today if not for her.”
The General Women’s Union established by Sheikha Fatima helped Ms Al Romaithy, and thousands of Emirati women, to establish businesses through the “productive families” programme.
“We owe her our lives, and there is no one who has stood by us and supported us like her,” said Ms Al Romaithy, who is displaying handmade incense, coffee cups and other creations in a corner shop at the Souq zone of the festival.
Muna Al Hashemi, the first female chef to graduate from a culinary school, said she too would not be where she is today without Sheikha Fatima’s support.
In charge of a beverage stall at the festival’s dining area, the 29-year-old said: “Sheikha Fatima gave me a scholarship to go to France to the top and most prestigious culinary school, Alain Ducasse.”
Her family was not enthusiastic about her decision to become a chef, “but now, after they saw that the Mother of the Nation is supporting me, they are backing me up”, Ms Al Hashemi said.
Mohammed Ziani, a surgeon at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, has never seen such an event being held at the Corniche.
“At the hospital there are many patients I have seen who have been sponsored by Sheikha Fatima,” the Frenchman said.
“Sheikha Fatima has done so much good and continues till this day to help those in need.”
Emiratis Mohammed Al Kaabi, 24, and Mohammed Al Mheiri, 21, were excited about jumping off a nine-metre platform on to an inflated base.
“There is so much to do and something for everyone,” Mr Al Kaabi said.
“And this is thanks to who?” his friend said. “Sheikha Fatima has supported education, the youth and cared for the well-being of the Emirates.”
Source: uae news