Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 5 March 2019: Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated entity for culture, arts, heritage, and literature, announced today, the Safeguarding Emirati Cultural Heritage Forum, themed Developing Business Capabilities Towards Safeguarding Traditional Handicrafts. Held under the kind patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, the two-day forum commenced yesterday, March 5th 2019, at the Etihad Museum, Dubai.
The Forum is organised by Dubai Culture as a key part of its 2021 Sectoral Strategy, that aims to preserve and sustain the handicrafts sector and to position Dubai as a leader in innovation and the development of the traditional handicraft and creative industries, by encouraging the younger generation to preserve the legacy.
On the inaugural day, Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director General at Dubai Culture, addressed the gathering on important topics like efforts of the government in safeguarding Emirati heritage, represented by Dubai Culture. He also highlighted successful initiatives and projects that have been launched for the same purpose, in collaboration with other government entities, including the recently launched Traditional Handicrafts Strategy, which is a first-of-its-kind initiative regionally, aiming to preserve traditional handicrafts and ensure their sustainability.
Commenting on the Forum, Al Nabouda said, "This Forum is part of our pledge to realise the vision of our government, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It is also in line with our commitment to uphold the Fifty-Year Charter and the Eight Principles of Governance, launched by His Highness, especially the fifth principle namely ‘Our Society has a Unique Personality’. We abide by these national principles and strive to achieve their goals through hard work, discipline, commitment, and perseverance. Heritage is one of the main components that shape our distinctive cultural identity."
At the Forum, Dubai Culture revealed its key projects in handicrafts, including Al Nabouda’s announcement of the launch of the ‘Land of Talent’ campaign. The campaign is a competition to design a logo for the Safeguarding Emirati Cultural Heritage Forum to raise awareness of its agenda and impart continuity to the Forum, thereby providing all UAE residents opportunity to help shape its future framework. Al Nabouda also unveiled Muwareeth, a cultural and educational centre that that contributes to the preservation of cultural heritage and traditional crafts in Dubai and the UAE. It aims to promote the industry, highlight its originality, and expand its economic, social and cultural value.
Al Nabouda added, "We devote special attention to safeguarding and promoting traditional culture and values in the UAE. This is underpinned by our initiatives and projects that are designed to educate the community on the cultural, social, and economic significance of the UAE’s traditional handicrafts sector, including the Dubai Heritage Development Centres at Dubai Government schools, established in cooperation Dubai Educational Zone. This Forum complements our efforts towards adding Al Talli handicraft to UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, a first-of-its-kind initiative to preserve Emirati women’s handicrafts at the regional level. Here, we are showcasing our initiatives in this area, in the presence of experts and specialists in the field."
In the first session, the Forum focused on building capabilities and competencies in the handicrafts sector wherein the participants delved into related topics and discussed the ways to empower the handicrafts sector, preserve the cultural heritage elements, and boost its competitiveness among other economic industries, ensuring its constant growth, in line with global developments.
A number of workshops and sessions, moderated by a prominent media personality Ahmed Abdullah (UAE), were held, commencing with a discussion on handicrafts industry, relevant challenges and its drivers of success, with H.E. Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam (UAE). The second session explored and examined the capabilities and competencies required to successfully sustain the handicrafts sector. The discussion featured speakers including Dr. Mustafa Al Nami (Morocco), Dr. Salem Al Bahri (Oman), and Aisha Bint Huwaireb (UAE).
Further, the second session dealt with the role of civil society organisations in safeguarding handicrafts and boosting their capacity to grow and innovate. Participants discussed the role of such organisations and their contributions to driving the handicraft industry. They presented ideas, initiatives, projects, and talk about various business incubators that contribute to safeguarding handicrafts, incentivizing entrepreneurs and encouraging them to invest in this sector.
The first panel discussion in the second session addressed the same topic, with a focus on an integrated business model for civil society organisations by guest speaker, Nahla Al Hamid (Saudi Arabia). The first day’s activities culminated with a panel discussion highlighting the importance of integrating the roles of civil society organisations towards successfully safeguarding the handicrafts sector. Guest speakers for this insightful discussion included Ahmed Al Dhanhani (UAE), and Dr. Hasan Al Shuwaikh (Morocco).
The second day of the Forum is set to kick off with the session, titled ‘Corporate governance and its role in sustaining handicrafts’. It will discuss institutional frameworks, including laws, resolutions, regulations, and methodologies that support sustaining of the authenticity and originality of handicrafts, protecting the intellectual property rights of local handcrafted products, and boosting the competitiveness of such products.
The first segment of this session will offer an in-depth view into the regulatory, institutional frameworks for bolstering the handicraft industry, presenting a flexible business model for sustaining handicrafts. This session will feature guest speaker, Dr. Hani Hayajneh (Jordan). Further next discussion, moderated by Ahmed Abdullah (UAE), will talk about laws, resolutions, and regulations required to govern, empower, and boost the competitiveness of handicrafts sector. Nahla Al Hamid (Saudi Arabia), and Dr. Mustafa Al Nami (Morocco).
For the next session, the Forum will bring up the topic of the role of different media outlets and information technology in sustaining handicrafts, spreading the handicrafts culture, and promoting knowledge of heritage across different community segments. The session will also explore the type of cultural heritage content that is relevant to the new generation, including social media content.
This session will feature two segments; first ‘Towards Developing A Digital Media Vision for Sustaining Handicrafts’ with Hissa El Belushi (UAE). A panel discussion will follow, addressing the role of information technology and different media outlets in sustaining traditional handicrafts, with Lamia Rashid Al Shamsi (UAE) as speaker.
The second and final day will culminate with the Forum’s fifth session, ‘Role of schools in passing on and safeguarding handicrafts as an intangible cultural heritage element’. This session will throw light on the methods for empowering schools as educational systems in promoting handicrafts, while presenting plans for developing educational workshops and innovative heritage programmes, which aim to teach and facilitate the practice of handicrafts and their integration into school curricula, according to age groups.
The first panel discussion will highlight ‘Dubai Culture’s experience in sustaining handicrafts through heritage centres in schools’ featuring three Emirati speakers H.E. Ghaya Sultan Al Muhairi, Fatima Lootah, and Buthaina Al Shehhi.
Also, in other sessions, Dr. Salem Al Bahri (Oman) will speak about the role of schools as educational systems in promoting the handicrafts culture, and Fahad Al Mamari (UAE) will give an insightful overview of the nomination files to inscribe Al Talli on UNESCO's Urgent Safeguarding List.
During the two days, the Forum plans to offer practical workshops, with Classroom 1 featuring artisan workshops organised by the Dubai Heritage Development Centres, while Classroom 2 will host ‘Learn Al Talli’ workshop, presented by Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council in Sharjah, and Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts – Abu Dhabi. The Multipurpose Hall at the Etihad Museum will feature the ‘United Arab Emirates Traditional Handicrafts Exhibition,’ which kicks off with the Forum, and runs until the end of April.
Dubai Culture aims to enhance Dubai’s cultural scene and draw attention to the UAE’s rich heritage. The Authority’s mandate is to build bridges of constructive dialogue between different civilisations and cultures to enhance Dubai's position as a creative and sustainable global city for culture, heritage, arts, and literature, with the aim to empower these sectors by developing creative and innovative projects and initiatives locally, regionally, and globally.