The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi is launching three initiatives intended to protect and promote the UAE's cultural heritage, including the Abu Dhabi Register of Artisans, the Abu Dhabi Crafts platform and the recently reopened House of Artisans at Qasr Al Hosn.
Abu Dhabi Register of Artisans is an online database that will allow local craftspeople who practice one or more of the listed 17 traditional crafts to apply for certification and membership. Those who are registered can then be promoted to the public via the database, and will also have the opportunity to take part in training and participate in fairs, events and festivals.
The Abu Dhabi Crafts platform will then help with marketing and selling the artisans' creations. Through the online portal, artists can display and sell their works, as well as participate in online programmes towards building their skills. To be featured, they must present original product designs and adhere to a "high level of craftsmanship", according to DCT Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, the House of Artisans at Qasr Al Hosn, which reopened in April, features a permanent exhibition of traditional crafts and objects. Through this display, visitors can learn about the UAE's intangible cultural heritage, specifically its traditional crafts and the materials and techniques used by local artisans. The centre also serves to promote Emirati contemporary artists from within the sphere of craft and design.
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, noted the importance of safeguarding the UAE’s intangible heritage “so that skills and knowledge associated with our crafts and practices can be preserved and passed down to future generations”.
He said that the initiatives are “a testament to our efforts in supporting our culture and creative industries and promoting Abu Dhabi and its rich traditions locally, regionally and on the global stage”.
Though the UAE is a young country, celebrating the 50th anniversary of its formation this year, it has undergone tremendous change over the last few decades. Along the way, many of its traditions, including traditional weaving practices, have shrunk or shifted in the face of globalised commercialism.
Saood Al Hosani, undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, underscored the importance of traditional practices, even today. “The traditions and practices of the emirate are not relics of the past; they are part of our living heritage and continue to enrich our daily lives.
“It is important to note that the cultural and creative industries, which artisans and traditional practitioners are part of, contribute significantly to Abu Dhabi’s economy and are drivers of development in the emirate.”
He said that support of local talent also leads to a more "sustainable cultural ecosystem" and "greater economic diversification".