It’s been quite The Year of Zayed. Shortly after it was announced that the UAE’s Founding Father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is getting a Hollywood biopic based on his life, The British Museum revealed plans to rename one of its most prestigious galleries in the late ruler’s honor. The iconic institution in London, which is dedicated to human history, art, and culture, is set to rename Gallery 51 to the “Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Gallery for Europe and the Middle East”. A fitting tribute to his legacy, considering the gallery formerly known as 51 explores the impact that the introduction of farming in the Middle East – and its spread to Europe – has had on modern day society.
Additionally, Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) will also oversee the loan of key objects from The British Museum to be displayed at the Zayed National Museum (a not-yet-complete museum dedicated to his late Highness) when it opens its doors on Saadiyat Island, next to The Louvre Abu Dhabi.
“The renaming of this gallery, one that explores the history and heritage of the Middle East, and the lasting impact that an industry can have on the world, highlights the significant role that Sheikh Zayed played in the preservation and protection of our unique cultural heritage,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT, in a ceremony held at The British Museum on Wednesday. Indeed, the Bedouin tribesman who became President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi transformed the Gulf country from a vast expanse of desert into a lush, green oasis, long before sustainability was recognized in the region.
Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum added: “The British Museum is about the interconnectivity of cultures, and this gallery shows the impact of the introduction of farming in the Middle East and its spread to Europe, thereby shaping the modern world. This support is a reflection of the long-standing collaborative relationship we share with DCT Abu Dhabi and is all the more significant in this important year for the UAE.”
The news comes as the UAE celebrates the Year of Zayed, a 12-month period that marks 100 years since the birth of the Founding Father.
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