20160327_174318Today’s postcard is quite special as it features my experience at a brand new festival in Abu Dhabi called “Mother of the Nation” which takes place from 24th March – 2nd April.  If you live in Abu Dhabi, you will have noticed a display of colourful posters and a kaleidoscope of adverts throughout social media and radio! The festival is a first of its kind and is a reflection of the values of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of the late Sheikh Zayed, founding father of the UAE. Sheikha Fatima is an active supporter of empowering women and is the Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, and Chairwoman of the Supreme Council of Motherhood and Childhood.President.

The festival offers an incredibly interactive element, and is aimed entirely at the importance of family while commemorating the contribution of all mothers to society.  Stretching along 1.3 km of serene waves along the Corniche, the festival is made up of 5 themed interactive zones including: Souq, Active, Art, Conservation and Beach Dining.

Upon entering from the main part of the Corniche, I started with the Souq Zone which features boutique pop ups selling unique products and interactive displays of Emirati history. Walking along the winding pathways, I then passed through the Art Zone, which transformed the garden area into an electrifying artistic constellation. I was very impressed to see so many children participating in the arts and crafts workshops creating gifts and souvenirs to take home as well as a diverse collection of colourful vintage cars.

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Continuing on my journey, I ended up at the Active Zone where a group of X-Pogo athletes were showcasing impressive jumps.The DJ’s did a great job of engaging with the audience as children were invited to act as “stuntmen” with the parkour team who demonstrated impressive jumps – just like in the movies!  Another extremely impressive element was the Jump zone featuring a 6m and 9m free fall! Visitors are also able to zip line their way down while gazing at the breathtaking sunset.

Just in time for a break, I conveniently ended up in the Beach Dining Zone – featuring a collection of the best local and international restaurants, cafes and food trucks.  This zone also included a very interested gardening workshop which taught visitors how to grow their own food as well as latte art and mocktail demonstrations.

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Continuing with the general encouragement of environmental awareness, the Conservation Zone was definitely one of my favourites! The Environment Agency exhibition showcased the Al Wathba Wetlands, a reserve which is home to more than 250 species of birds including pink flamingos! It also highlighted the importance of water saving and the impact poor habits have on the environment. Did you know that in some African and Asian countries, citizens have to walk 6 km for fresh water – that is like walking from Marina Mall to World Trade Centre – imagine doing that every single day!

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While I was slightly disappointed that there were no live animals during the festival( since I have become so accustomed to playing with the camels during any public event), I was impressed by the Eco safari which allowed visitors of all ages to take a 6 minute jeep tour around a custom built imitation of the natural UAE terrain and to learn more about its inhabitants.

The festival is filled with quirky characters ranging from puppeteers, stilt walkers, a levitation duo, travelling magicians and an authentic glass mirror family – interacting with visitors and posing for photos in virtually every corner! Being a lover of performing arts, I was very impressed by the line-up of entertainment spread throughout the entire festival.  A few notable performances included sand art queen, Shayma Al Mughairy, finalist in the first season of “Arabs Got Talent”, who mesmerized the audience with her impressive creations as well as the Light Emitting Dancers who used illuminating ribbons with every performance to create a musical story!

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I very much enjoyed visiting the festival during the daytime because I was able to properly appreciate each element, however it wasn’t until the sun set when I realised all the magic happened!  The festival turns into a fluorescent wonderland as special lighting accents, live acoustic bands, and incandescent art illuminate the gardens.  With a million stars above me, the glittering city lights reflecting across the sea, and the tranquil sounds of the gentle-lapping waves- there was no better place I could imagine being.

Please click here to enjoy more photos and videos from my personal collection, and here from the official website – they are SO worth it!

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