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Abu Dhabi International Book Fair: UAE’s strides in heritage preservation hailed

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair: UAE’s strides in heritage preservation hailed
7 May 2024 09:01

SARA ALZAABI (ABU DHABI)


The role of the UAE and UNESCO in promoting cultural heritage came to the fore during a discussion session on the final day of the 33rd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on Sunday.

Titled “The Role of UNESCO in Promoting Human Cultural Heritage in the Arab Region (The United Arab Emirates as a Model)”, the session emphasised the UAE’s active involvement in major agreements, programmes, conferences, and projects to preserve Emirati culture and raise awareness for the future generations.

Moderating the session Dr. Awad Ali Saleh, an expert in intangible heritage, discussed UNESCO’s efforts to preserve human heritage since World War II.

The UAE has played a significant role in promoting culture, tolerance, and coexistence, Dr. Awad stated.

“The Emirates contributed not only to registering elements of its intangible heritage but also volunteered to include this registration in the preparation of joint files in the Arab region,” he said.

Protecting the heritage of the Emirates has become not a governmental issue but rather a societal issue through the state’s involvement with all practitioners by encouraging them to preserve this practice through establishing associations, holding conferences and cultural training courses, he added.

Rasul Samadov, Head of the Culture Unit at UNESCO’s Regional Office for the Gulf States and Yemen - Azerbaijan, highlighted the book fair’s promotion of culture and heritage in the UAE.

He emphasised the importance of cultural diversity in development. “The respect for each other’s differences can actually contribute to social and economic development.”

He also stressed the UAE’s vibrant publishing and book industry, which is closely linked to arts and culture education. 
UNESCO is advocating for culture to be a sustainable development goal beyond the 2030 agenda, engaging as many countries as possible.

“We do a lot of capacity building all over the world, we engage in extensive networking, bringing different networks together and different expertise. We strive to share knowledge since the added value of working on a specific topic is to bring different perspectives from other regions, to showcase what worked well in other contexts, and to explore what can be tried in different contexts,” Samadov noted.

Also speaking during the event, Dr. Zaki Aslan, an architect and planner at the American University of Sharjah, underlined the UAE’s pioneering role in heritage preservation, initiating international cooperation and agreements with UNESCO.

The UAE has focused on capacity building, training, and knowledge establishment in heritage preservation in different countries, which “gives the impression of how much the UAE is an initiator of international cooperation.”
The UAE supports collaboration with UNESCO committees and integrates heritage preservation into school curricula, he noted.

Speaking to Aletihad, Dr. Rashid Ahmed Almazrouei, an author and a heritage researcher,  said that he has been participating in exhibitions in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi since 2018. His field of interest in Emirati folklore.

He noted that Abu Dhabi International Book Fair offers an ideal venue to familiarise relevant publications to the public.
Another participating author, Dr. Fatma Hamad Almazrouei, said that  she has been participating in the Abu Dhabi Book Fair for 12 years.

“My participation this year features a variety of books, mostly in Arabic and some translated into English. Through my writings, I strive to highlight Emirati heritage, considering it as a part of our national identity.”

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