In the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan -may his soul rest in peace- was the founder of the country’s agricultural renaissance, and he was fully dedicated to the growth and cultivation of date palms. He totally devoted himself for the purpose and cultivated dates beyond the borders of the oasis where they traditionally grew which played a great role in the flourishing dates throughout the nation. This great achievement turned the desert into an abundant paradise for its dwellers, and thanks to that, the UAE today brings this ancient super fruit to a new global market, which made the UAE the leader of date’s cultivation in the world. Late Sheikh Zayed’s dedication was the price that he paid to gain the UAE’s success in this domain today, for this sector is one of the most vibrant contributors to the economic growth of the UAE.
The fruit is a staple of the Arab diet and a vital source of nutrition and energy.
The palm’s wood and leaves were used to build houses, fences, beams, baskets, ropes and many other useful items.
For thousands of years, they provided shelter, food and other necessities for the Arab Bedouins
Date palms are an intrinsic part of Arab life and heritage.
The UAE is one of the top 10 date palm cultivators in the world, with dates grown in royal palaces, private residences, public gardens and streets as well as commercial farms.
THE ORIGIN OF DATES
Research has shown that these ancient fruits may be the key
to the health of our future generations.
Date palm cultivation originated in the Middle East then spread to North Africa. After that it spread to the regions of California, South Africa and Australia.
The Arabs were the pioneers to have a novel irrigation system known as aflaaj – water channels that were designed to extend the oasis water to a wider geographical area, so they can increase the space of the cultivated tree area and use it effectively.
The Middle East accounts for over 90% of date production worldwide.
It has been proved by research that dates are the key to have a healthy body because these ancient fruits are of endless benefits. Thus, we all need dates to maintain a good health, and as they say adapt the remedy to the disease and dates are the remedies to many diseases.
The date fruit can be eaten at all stages of maturity – ripe and fresh (called Besr), semi-matured (called Rutab), and dried (called Tamr).
The dried fruit could keep for long periods of time, and was an essential source of nutrition for Arab desert dwellers long after its harvest season.
One of the ways they used to preserve it was by extracting "dibs" or "date syrup" (sometimes referred to as date honey), ensuring that they would have a source of nutrition and energy throughout the year.
Dates are enjoyed in many forms - as whole fruit (fresh or dried), as syrup, as paste in cakes, biscuits and desserts, as jam, as juice, etc.
Dates can be enjoyed throughout the year but are strongly associated with special religious events, such as Ramadan for Muslims and Christmas for Christians. It’s tradition to break the Ramadan fast with a handful of dates.