A group of Emirati engineers and artists have reimagined the traditional date fruit, known for its nutritional richness, into a source of electricity, showcasing an innovative fusion of art, engineering, and culinary heritage.

The three men showcased their project at the Sikka Art and Design Festival, highlighting the cultural significance of dates while promoting sustainable energy solutions. “It was a surprise when we lit up a bulb,” said Dr Ahmad Al Attar, an engineer who recently completed his doctorate in physics.

For their invention, the trio used Majdool dates, which are substantially bigger and can hold copper plates firmly. The process involved extracting energy from the natural sugars present in dates, transforming it into a clean and renewable power source.

Dr Al Attar, Omar Al Hammadi and Mohamad Al Hamadi used copper plates embedded in dates, which were interconnected by a conductive metal wire. 20 dates were used for the model, and the result was a visually striking display. “As it is an art festival, this model forms a pleasing visual and functional piece of art,” said Dr Al Attar.

“The copper plates act as electrodes, and the metal wire completes the circuit, allowing the setup to generate a small amount of electricity,” added Dr Al Attar.

Explaining the motivation behind their creation, Mohamad Al Hamadi said that dates carry a lot of significance in the local Arab culture, and they see their importance slightly fading away.

"Dates have been an integral part of our culture for centuries. However, in today's fast-paced world, their importance is sometimes overlooked. We wanted to showcase the versatility of dates and emphasise their value in Emirati traditions," said Mohamad Al Hamadi.

The team believes that by presenting their project at the festival, they can draw attention to the cultural significance of dates and garner appreciation for the fruit. “The installation not only serves as a symbol of innovation but also as a reminder of the sustainable practices deeply rooted in Emirati heritage,” said Al Attar.

“Our installation not only generates electricity but also serves as a conversation starter about the importance of preserving our cultural heritage,” added Mohamad Al Hamadi.

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