Why dates

  • The date palms are one of the oldest trees in the Arabian Peninsula, earliest evidence of date palm cultivation was 4000 BC in Ur, Lower Mesopotamia (Iraq) played a key role in the life of the people
  • The date palms are distributed through out regions that provide suitable climatic conditions for the growth of the trees. They are found in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, South Asia, America and Australia
  • Dates are the most important agricultural crop in irrigable desert lands. They help combat desertification, offer protection to under crops and are a good source of human nutrition
  • Dates are the first agricultural export product of Qatar, amounting up to 16,500 metric tons per year in 2003 but the local fruit production has declined steeply over the past decade
  • Dates are an important source of nutrition in the food diet of the local population in Qatar . Fresh dates are rich in simple sugars like fructose and dextrose. On consumption, they replenish energy quickly to the body. Hence, they are used commonly to break the fast during the month of Ramadan in Qatar and surrounding regions.
  • Dates are low in fat and high in carbohydrates and other elements. Research studies have reported that dates are rich in macroelements mainly potassium, phosphorous, calcium, chlorine and magnesium and have appreciable quantities of microelements essentially iron, manganese, copper and zinc.
  • The fruit have antioxidant flavanoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin and tannins. These antioxidants possess anti-inflammatory, anti-haemorrhagicand anti-cancer properties.
  • The development cycle of the date fruit is divided into five distinct stages: 1) Habakuk - development of a small white fruit after a week of pollination 2) Kimri - At about 5-17 weeks there is a visible change of fruit color and size. The fruit is small and green and slowly turns yellow and red. 3) Khalal - In 18 -25 weeks, the fruit grows longer and turns either fully yellowor red. The fruits are quite hard but can be consumed. 4) Rutab - the fruit ripens in another 5-7 weeks, turns brown in color and getting ready to be harvested 5) Tamr - 3 weeks post the rutab stages, the ripened fruit is harvested.
  • The date palm can tolerate high levels of salinity and is relatively drought resistant than other fruit trees. These characteristics make it suitable to be cultivated in the arid regions of the world.
  • The crop was ranked as one of the high research priority for agricultural research in the Central and West Asia and North Africa region (CWANA) by national research institutions in the gulf countries at a priority setting exercise conducted by ICARDA in 2003