DCT Abu Dhabi launches campaign to safeguard its architectural heritage

The drive aims to identify and maintain key sites and buildings that illustrate the growth of the city

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To know how far Abu Dhabi progressed over the years, we need to appreciate its past.

That is the message behind The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi’s (DCT Abu Dhabi) latest public awareness campaign.

Launched on Monday, the drive intends to shed further light on the city's urban and historical jewels through the ongoing Modern Heritage Initiative. Since its launch in 2011, the program has identified and protected key sites that illustrate the dynamic growth of the capital.

This focus was further strengthened in 2016, when the Abu Dhabi Government established the Cultural Heritage Law, which viewed modern heritage on par with archaeological and historical sites. As a result, buildings such as the Cultural Foundation and the Abu Dhabi Bus Station are now protected and lay testament to the capital’s continuous growth.

“As we approach 2021 and look to celebrate 50 years since the founding of the UAE it is crucial that we, as a nation, reflect on how far we have progressed. Through the Modern Heritage initiative, we have the opportunity to tell the unique story of where we have come from and where we are today," says DCT Abu Dhabi chairman Mohamed Al Mubarak.

“Modern heritage is not only about sizeable architectural icons; it also includes informal and more modest sites that embody historical, social or cultural values, which are equally significant to the story of the UAE."

Al Mubarak went on to add that as part of the initiative, significant building and sites left in a state of disrepair will be earmarked for maintenance according to best international practice.

“Sadly, many of these buildings have been deteriorating because of lack of maintenance and neglect, inappropriate renovations and repairs, lack of awareness and interest, shifts in trends and fashions and many other reasons,” he said.

“Individually and collectively, we have the civic responsibility to maintain and protect our modern heritage sites and so it is essential to safeguard the significant buildings and sites that represent our identity and are a record of our past, which we can then use to inspire future development.”

At the end of the awareness campaign, an “action plan” will be drawn up by DCT Abu Dhabi to maintain and protect the identified sites in accordance with the Abu Dhabi Cultural Heritage Law.