In eastern Arabia alone, there are over 50 different varieties of date palm, bearing many types and qualities of fruit at different times. You may have seen the ripening yellow colored or more valuable red skinned dates. The palms produce separately, either male or female flowers. Most farmers practice hand pollination which is more reliable than natural pollination relying on insects and the wind. Palm plantations consist almost entirely of female fruit bearing trees. Here the natural maturing time for the dates is in the summer between June and July.
Date syrup is still very popular. In traditional houses dates were stacked in small rooms with underlying drains from which the syrup was collected. In the Al Hisn Museum you can see a reconstruction of the date drain. Great for eating either as they are or in traditional dishes.
In addition to the highly nutritious value of the dates themselves, the palm fronds were used in the construction of traditional barasti houses and roof matting for the coral and gypsum based houses. The Shashah, the traditional fishing boats still seen on the beach in Kalba, are made from the midrib of the date palm frond.
The trunk itself is often hollowed out to form a mortar with the rest carved for the pestle, put to use to crush wheat. The palm leaf is utilized to weave baskets, bags, bowls, made into sweeping brushes and woven into floor mats.