The women's majlis: Education can lead cultural progress

How would you like to see the art and culture scene develop in the UAE?

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How would you like to see the art and culture scene develop in the UAE?

'The prosperity that we have witnessed has taught us to build our country with education and knowledge and nurture generations of educated men and women." -Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan

More than 5,000 years ago, writing was developed in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), the first area known to develop the skill using symbols. The Mesopotamian civilisation had a significant effect on people in the region and, for centuries, it was known for its philosophers, scientists, historians, mathematicians, physicians and jurists. In comparison, the region's contribution to research and publications was very low. Considering that so much was created in this region, there is now so little left.

The UAE Government has done a lot for Emiratis in all cultural fields and the development of human social capital; focusing on development and investment in its citizens, identifying skill gaps and the need for progress. Regardless of it being a new nation, we have reached beyond what is expected compared with countries that started modernisation programs decades before the UAE.

It's time for the people here to believe in themselves and strive for the future. But to progress, we must first know our past: the UAE needs to produce more writers, educators, philosophers and, most importantly, historians.

It all starts from an early age. Parents should start reading to children as young as a few months, so that it becomes a regular activity. They shouldn't be dependent on school curriculums; children learn more by example than through school assignments. Parents should be role models and provide the right environment for learning and analytical thinking. This will help the young generation to have a voice through writing. It should be as easy as posting on social networks.

We, as future cultural leaders of the UAE, should encourage children, siblings, friends and even parents to read and write and nourish their spirits with education, learning and self-development. We can start initiatives that make reading and writing part of recreation or daily life: book clubs, writing centres, community libraries.

The best advice for young people is to never hesitate to ask questions - but also try to do your own research. Be proactive, not reactive. This will broaden horizons for young Emiratis.

Emiratis should write their own history and pass on education to the younger generations. They should be out there exploring, researching, asking questions, conversing with the elder generations to preserve what is left of our history, and learn from the people who lived in another time; yet it all happened here and only a few decades ago. Every Emirati should have a library at home and start reading and writing.

Emiratis should believe in education throughout life. The smarter we are, the greater our culture will become.

Salama Al Shamsi is the project manager for Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi.

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