Abu Dhabi Heritage Authority established to preserve Emirati culture and traditions

President Sheikh Mohamed announces new body will replace two others to promote traditional and national identity values

Alia Obaid with her falcon at Al Dhafra Festival. The Abu Dhabi event aims to preserve and share Emirati culture. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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President Sheikh Mohamed, in his capacity as Ruler of Abu Dhabi, has issued a law establishing the Abu Dhabi Heritage Authority.

The authority's main roles will include developing strategies to preserve Emirati heritage and traditions; promoting traditional and national identity values; documenting heritage practices; and conducting studies and research on literature and traditions.

It will also document Emirati nabati (vernacular) and classical Arabic poetry initiatives, as well as review historical studies and publications focusing on the oral history of the emirate, as well as its spoken dialects. This will include poems and written, visual and audio mate­rials on the UAE and its leadership.

The authority will also manage and organise festivals, exhibitions and heritage programmes inside and outside the emirate.

Abu Dhabi Heritage Authority will replace the Emirates Heritage Club and the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee – Abu Dhabi.

Established as an independent body in 1993 by UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Emirates Heritage Club helps protect and promote the heritage of the UAE.

The Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee was formed in 2013 to complement the Emirates Heritage Club and host activities to promote Emirati culture and heritage. The committee organises various annual events including Al Dhafra Festival, known as “the greatest showcase of Bedouin lifestyle”, and the Liwa Date Festival, which celebrates the UAE's tradition of harvesting dates, now in its 20th year.

There has been a greater emphasis in recent years towards heritage preservation in the UAE. Last July, Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism announced that 64 buildings and sites required “immediate and unconditional protection”.

The department’s Modern Heritage Conservation Initiative would approve the maintenance and renovations of the buildings according to their designated grade. No demolition applications would be allowed.

“It is our civic responsibility to guard this modern heritage,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the department.

“Not only because of the value it holds in our collective memory as residents of this emirate but because of the historical testimony it has in telling Abu Dhabi’s story through architectural and urban identity between the traditional past and our aspirations for the future.”

Updated: January 24, 2024, 6:54 PM