The Date and the Date Palm have been an important part of survival in the UAE for close to 7000 years, the oldest seeds found on Delma Island dating back to 5110BC. So important, that the United Arab Emirates could become the first Globally Important Agriculture Heritage System (GIAHS) in the Near East countries in 2015, and in August UAE University completed its first phase of Date Identification and Classification in the UAE.
The UAE being recognized as a globally important region for date farming in not knew news to the Bedouin and local farmers. They have utilized and harvested dates as part of their food source for survival in the UAE, as well as the use of the Date Palm tree for shelters built from its stalks and leaves. What makes the date fruit so important and perfect for survival in the desert environment is that they are easily digested, allowing the body to take full use of its nutrients. It reduces bad cholesterol, and contains, iron, potassium, Vitamins, B, A and, K, and 15 minerals. No wonder Bedouins were known to have survived on dates and camel milk alone. They can be dried and stored for future consumption and eaten year round.
The UAE currently grows about 160 varieties of dates and 55 species have been initially identified in the UAE University study. There are a staggering 44 million date palm trees in the UAE that produce 76,000 tons of dates per year. Dates are mentioned 26 times in the Quran, and the Prophet Mohammed PBUH was known to have eaten and sustained himself on dates alone. Therefore, the local population is not only connected to the Date Palm as a part of their livelihood, but it also holds special religious significance. Muslims throughout the world during Ramadan break their fast with dates.
This year, the Emirates International Date Festival will be held this year in Abu Dhabi from 24th to the 29th of November 2014. It’s a great way to learn more about this invaluable fruit.