'Massive opportunities' to create cultural content for future leaders and Arabic society

Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi chairman Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak says creative industries have a greater role to play in education

Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi chairman Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak at the International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries. Photo: Abu Dhabi Language Centre
Powered by automated translation

An understanding of the Arab world’s culture and history needs to be woven into the curriculum in schools across the region, according to Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi chairman Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak.

Appearing as part of the International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries in Abu Dhabi's Manarat Al Saadiyat on Sunday, he noted the broader cultural sector needs to play a bigger role in education to create more dynamic Arabic societies.

“This is an investment of the mind when it comes to school curricula, when it comes to cultural programming in understanding what the Arab world has contributed," he said. “It is not just about the present and past, but also the future.”

“We don't learn much about the history of some of the greatest Arab thinkers who really changed the pathway of the world we see today. There is an emphasis on making sure when we learn about maths, science, philosophy and the English language.

“Now, how do we make sure that our cultural content is also following suit? This is where I see massive opportunities for the culture and creative industries in that we can create this new content for future leaders and communities.”

Al Mubarak says the UAE cultural and creative industries are already mobilised for the cause, explaining that more than 405,000 people are employed in that sector and that it contributes four per cent of the UAE’s GDP.

He highlighted the country’s innovative investment in libraries as an example of the kind of job creation these industries can provide.

“Libraries are sort of moving towards the realm of the archaic,” he said. “While on the contrary, if you look at the Arab world specifically, there has been a massive investment in libraries, not just as places that will house books from our history but community centres that bring these critical minds together.”

“We have invested quite significantly in that field and within that there has been a subsection of jobs that have been created, from paper conservation and librarians to intellectual researchers. And the list goes on.”

Also appearing at the congress, organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, was Egyptian-American economist Mohamed El Erian, who is president of Queens College in the UK.

He predicts that the UAE's diversity of investments will ultimately bear fruit for the culture and creative industries.

“What you are doing is creating all these really important platforms that enable people to be creative,” he said. “It’s the network effect in that you plant as many seeds as possible and eventually it all becomes self-enforcing.”

Aiding that growth is artificial intelligence, Al Mubarak notes. He says the technology can potentially galvanise the Arabic language and maintain its appeal to future generations.

“The Arabic language really hasn't evolved and has been the same for over a millennia.” he said. “Through artificial intelligence and youth interaction we can now evolve it for the first time, such as bringing new words.

“At the same time, we need to understand where artificial intelligence starts and where it ends. Within the creative and culture industries there is a massive fear regarding the technology but I feel we can truly quash it because ultimately, you really cannot replace creativity.”

El Erian praised the UAE government's proactive policies and investments in artificial intelligence, stating they have kept the Arab world at the forefront of the technology.

“The UAE has taken a leading role in making sure that artificial intelligence does not exclude the Arabic world and this is important because past technological transformations have done that,” he said.

“AI is going to impact every single person and it is fuelled by four things: computing power, data, talent and finance. These four things are increasing at such a rate that you are seeing this amazing progress. I see that AI will be less of a replacement and more of an enhancer and will not replace the creative and highly skilled things we do.”

Updated: May 01, 2024, 8:59 AM