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Sharjah Museum: Preserving Middle East Identity


Last week, the Sharjah Museums Department hosted the first conference on Arab and Islamic identity in a two-day event entitled “The Role of Museums and Cultural Institutions in Strengthening Identity”, aiming to stimulate a dialog on cultural integrity in the GCC region.

The conference, which lasted from December 17th to 18th, was inaugurated by Sheikh Salim bin Abdulrahman Al Qasimi, accompanied by Abdullah Al Owais, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Information, and Manal Ataya, Director of Sharjah Museums Department.

“Dramatic globalization with limitless socio-political and economic impact has affected cultural and social structures worldwide,” stated Ataya during the conference. “It is essential to investigate how museums can play an integral role in disseminating a shared Arab and Islamic tradition with the world beyond.”

The conference welcomed renowned intellectuals, such as Dr. Zaki Aslan, Director of ATHAR Regional Conservation Center; Dr. Abdulaziz Al Jabouri, an expert in ISESCO; Habib Al Sayegh, Chairman of the Emirates Writers Union; and Najeeb Al Shamsi, Economic Adviser at the Gulf Cooperation Council, who all contributed with speeches on preserving the Islamic culture.

Several universities from the GCC were also represented, such as the Sharjah University, the American University of Sharjah, the U.A.E. University, Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, the Sultan Qaboos University, the King Saud University, and the University College London – Qatar, in addition to various cultural authorities, including the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and the House of Islamic Antiquities in Kuwait.

This conference on Arab cultural identity goes hand in hand with Sharjah’s rich cultural history: the Emirate was named as the Cultural Capital of the Arab World by UNESCO in 1998, and was selected by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014.

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