Abu Dhabi: The first edition of Al Wathba Honey Festival, one of the events associated with the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Agricultural Excellence Award in its second edition, concluded after a 14-day run at the Award Pavilion at the Sheikh Zayed Festival in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi.

Drawing a diverse audience of beekeepers, honey producers, and enthusiasts, the festival provided a unique opportunity to sample a variety of locally renowned honey types amid a vibrant atmosphere filled with heritage, cultural, and entertainment events. Daily competitions, featuring valuable prizes and gifts, added to the festive spirit.

With over 60 beekeepers and companies involved in beekeeping and honey production, the festival served as an important marketing platform, allowing participants to showcase their products and keep abreast of the latest innovations and global best practices in their field.

The conclusion of the festival saw the announcement of winners in various competitions for local beekeepers and honey producers, including the best Sidr liquid honey, the best Samar liquid honey, the best crystallised honey, the best Sidr honeycomb and the best Sidr and Samar honeycomb for wild bees.

The first three winners in each category received substantial cash prizes, estimated at around 270,000 dirhams, with additional cash prizes and shields for the fourth and fifth place winners in each competition. Notably, the festival recorded the sale of approximately 3,200 kilograms of locally produced honey with a total sales value of approximately AED 640,000.

The organising committee affirmed that the first Al Wathba Honey Festival successfully achieved its objective of assisting local beekeepers and honey producers in terms of marketing support, skills development and exposure to global best practices in beekeeping and honey production. This was achieved through the facilitation of four workshops and scientific seminars on various topics related to beekeeping and honey production. These included guidance on the preparation of honey samples for participation in local and international competitions, insights into the quality and importance of local propolis, discussions on the breeding and quality of UAE honey bee queens, and the dissemination of best practices in honey bee breeding. In addition, the festival hosted a dialogue session with beekeepers and featured live shows throughout its duration.

The committee said that the festival contributes to enhancing the reputation of UAE honey and its competitiveness in local and international markets, which is in line with the goals and objectives of the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Agricultural Excellence Award to support the local produce, increase its efficiency and develop sustainable markets for it, thereby increasing its contribution to the country's food security system.

The large public turnout at the Al Wathba Honey Festival, which has become a highlight of the Sheikh Zayed Festival, received praise from the organising committee for enriching the overall festival experience.

Beekeepers and honey producers expressed their satisfaction with the festival's positive impact on promoting their products to a broader audience and confirmed their intent to participate in future editions.

The Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council (ADQCC), in collaboration with ADAFSA, played a crucial role in the festival by providing laboratory testing services for honey samples submitted by local producers to verify the quality of honey and assist the jury in selecting high quality honey.

The Honey Festivals in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi serve as dynamic platforms for testing honey samples against the highest local and international standards, evaluating criteria such as diastase, HMF levels, sugar composition, acidity and moisture content. In addition to showcasing distinctive honey products, these festivals also act as a platform for the exchange of knowledge and experiences between beekeepers and professionals in apiary, fostering cooperation and partnerships in this crucial sector. The central laboratory sector is committed to offering (HMF) testing services at a reduced price, encouraging participants in the sales platforms at the Festival to inspect honey products offered for sale during the event.