Interview: Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak
How are Abu Dhabi’s partnerships with international institutions such as the Louvre acting as catalysts for broader cultural investment?
MOHAMED KHALIFA AL MUBARAK: The inter-governmental agreement that led to the development of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is unprecedented in scope, and is representative of our belief in reaching out to leading institutions around the world to ensure that cultural developments in the UAE are in line with international standards, and benefit from the knowledge and experience of wide-ranging expertise. Projects like Louvre Abu Dhabi attract a huge amount of attention, both at home and abroad, and highlight the robust infrastructure we have put in place so that cultural initiatives can thrive.
In what ways are the emirate’s cultural and tourism stakeholders working with colleges and universities to develop national talent?
AL MUBARAK: Education is at the heart of everything we do, and we believe that appreciation for art, music and culture starts in school. As such, our educational programmes and youth outreach initiatives have been designed to enhance the accessibility of Abu Dhabi’s culture and heritage. These efforts aim to ensure that young people across the UAE have a strong understanding of their history and culture. Young people who engage in culture and the arts become lifelong learners, as well as advocates for preservation. They learn to respect and protect their past, and grow into creative, tolerant adults with a deep sense of humanity.
This is also true of our efforts to provide an educational infrastructure that will help develop the next generation of culture and tourism professionals in the UAE. Alongside the introduction of relevant higher education programmes, we are introducing initiatives that will enable young Emirati tourism professionals to take the next step in their careers.
Each year, millions of tourists come to Abu Dhabi to learn about our unique history, traditions and heritage, and there is no better way for visitors to experience this than by spending time with locals. This is the motivation behind our Emirati Tourist Guide Training and Licensing programme. Launched in November 2017, the initiative is an in-depth training course that invites UAE nationals to become licensed tour guides in line with international standards.
How is Abu Dhabi investing to preserve and promote heritage sites suitable for tourism?
AL MUBARAK: In Abu Dhabi we are lucky to have a wealth of rich cultural heritage. It is a core mission of DCT Abu Dhabi to preserve, promote and protect the sites that embody the history of our region for the benefit of future generations. Abu Dhabi’s impressive archaeological finds, for example, are displayed in the emirate’s oldest museum, Al Ain National Museum, as well as at several newly emerging museums across the UAE. In recent years, the department has also invested in the rejuvenation and restoration of several of the emirate’s ancient cultural sites. The oldest structure in Abu Dhabi City, Qasr Al Hosn, has now been reopened after being completely renovated to preserve its rich historic value. It has been transformed into an immersive tourism and cultural destination at the heart of the capital. The city of Al Ain is also home to the emirate’s newest museum, Qasr al Muwaiji. These sites, combined with the new institutions on Saadiyat Island, create a unique cultural tourism offering for visitors to the UAE. We are also making great strides to ensure that these sites are widely accessible to visitors and residents using the latest technological advances.
Our digital platform, Abu Dhabi Culture, is a onestop shop that allows users to gain instant access to all aspects of cultural life and heritage in the emirate. It also sets a benchmark for the sector, with a website as the main information hub, a mobile app, social media presence, as well as podcasts that feature weekly broadcasts on cultural topics and talks with experts.
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