Situated within one of the Oases which form the third of Al Ain’s Unesco Site, Al Qattara Souq is a bustling centre for food, entertainment and commerce every Thursday and Friday evenings throughout the winter. Note: This coming weekend, 28th and 29th May is this season’s finale.
Music and dancing are very much part of the Emirati culture and we were treated to two performances of local men dancing the Ay’yallah. It is considered to be the oldest dance in the region and is normally the first to be performed at a wedding – the men’s party that is! Another popular traditional dance is the Harbiyah which depicts victory and celebrates pride in power and courage and is often performed by young locals at the start of a celebration or a conference.
Meanwhile at the souq, you can purchase traditional food including the wonderful lukaimat which are light doughballs, deep fried and served with date syrup and sesame seeds. There are quite a few shops which sell local crafts, honey and dates, and in the permanent souq building some rooms are laid out in the style of shops long ago.
Souq Al Qattara is well worth a visit – why not make a night of it and follow it with a meal out at the nearby Heritage Oasis Restaurant which is open year round?