“Our heritage must be preserved since it is our origin and roots, and we must hold on to our origins and our deep roots.” These are the wise words of the founder of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, which are reflective of a country proud of its cultural heritage that embodies its identity and culture. Based on its awareness of the importance of heritage as a wealth left by the ancestors for generations to inspire them on their path towards the future, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) made preserving Emirati heritage one of the sectoral priorities of its strategic roadmap.
Dubai Culture is keen to annually keep pace with the UAE’s celebration of World Heritage Day on 18 April — which comes under the sponsorship of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) — highlighting the integral role of the past in shaping the present and the future, which is why it is crucial to preserve our heritage.
The Authority is consolidating its efforts to preserve Emirati cultural and historical identity for future generations by launching its Traditional Handicrafts Strategy in Dubai during the Safeguarding Emirati Cultural Heritage Forum it organised in 2018. This strategy was established to reinforce the Authority’s efforts in registering a number of national heritage pillars under UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
Dubai Culture is inspired by the UAE Centennial 2071 to achieve national strategic priorities, including the formation of the happiest society in the world for future generations based on a solid national identity, openness to the future, coherence and tolerance, and the need for global ambassadors for Emirati values. The Authority’s celebration of Emirati heritage, therefore, is not limited to World Heritage Day; it is a cultural message that Dubai Culture is committed to delivering to various segments of society throughout the year, entrenching the presence of Emirati heritage in the memories and conscience of its children for generations to come.
As the government entity entrusted with culture, arts and heritage in the emirate, Dubai Culture manages a number of heritage and historical sites in the emirate and plays a vital role in consolidating the connection of young generations with Emirati cultural heritage and their sense of pride in it. This is fulfilled through the preservation and celebration of these sites, which would encourage cultural tourism to the emirate, as well as through providing rich and unique cultural experiences for Dubai’s citizens, residents and tourists and introducing them to the wonderful Emirati heritage.
Dubai Culture organises several heritage festivals to keep heritage alive in the minds of the younger generation, such as the annual ‘Live Our Heritage Festival’ at Global Village to shed light on the history, customs and traditions of the UAE’s forefathers as well as to inspire from their lives and instil feelings of pride in national identity and the rich Emirati heritage. Through this festival, the Authority focuses on traditional crafts, such as palm-frond braiding (saf alKhos), burqa-making, dukhoun and perfumes, silver crafting, and Emirati coffee.
The Authority also took the initiative to invest in social media and modern technologies to keep the public constantly informed of Dubai’s cultural and heritage content in cooperation with Dubai 360, constituting the largest interactive online tour of the city, to showcase the emirate’s heritage and cultural sites.
Emirati heritage and culture comprise the civilization of community members and the means that would enable them to link the past with the present and build the future. Dubai Culture is committed to preserving a wealth that can be passed down to generations and bridged across towards a bright future.