The arts are crucial to the progress of the GCC

Arts and humanities encourage creative expression, empower people to express themselves and provide great value to the economy

Abu Dhabi, UAE – 7 July 2015: Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) is organising a series of specialised Emirati traditional handicrafts workshops focusing on transferring the skills and expertise of Emirati artisans to new generations.
Supervised by TCA Abu Dhabi-accredited Emirati craftswomen, the workshops will feature three crafts adroitly mastered by Emirati women over the years including ‘Talli’ embroidery, ‘Khos’ palm frond strand braiding and ‘Sadu’ weaving, and will be organised at Abu Dhabi National Theatre from 26th July to 20th August, 2015.
The workshops’ artistic production will then be displayed at an exhibition that will accompany the second National Traditional Handicrafts Festival, which is set to return to Al Ain’s Souq Al Qattara in October 2015.

Courtesy TCA Abu Dhabi *** Local Caption ***  na08jl-heritage.jpeg
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Anywhere in the world, arts and humanities play a critical role in shaping society. They are a reflection of the culture and natural evolution of a people – driving much needed change and fostering the power of creative expression. The Middle East has a rich history in the arts that has spanned millennia – from written prose to visual media, including painting, architecture, ceramics, pottery, textile art and calligraphy.

Middle Eastern arts are celebrated across the globe and the past few decades have brought forth a new wave of artistic expression in the region with the growth and adoption of technology – through film and television production, graphic design and increased accessibility through online channels.

A surge in efforts from governments and private sectors across the GCC over the past decades to develop and promote tourism, events and conferences has resulted in even greater appreciation for Middle Eastern arts and culture, and the region has served as a shining example of how countries can evolve with the times while preserving their tradition.

When times are tough, however, as we have seen in recent years with the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent changes in business, employment, lifestyle, artistic pursuits and spending take a backseat. Private and public sectors are focused towards revitalising the economy through industry and creatives tend to face challenges in engaging with their audiences.

It is nonetheless important to remind ourselves of the power of tradition and how pivotal creative members of societies have been in the past. And they must be a core component in our pursuit of a stable future. Arts and humanities encourage creative expression, evolution of thought, social movements, entertainment, boosting mental health, learning and enriching thought and discussion. They empower people to express themselves and develop natural talents, and provide great value to the economy.

Creative industries are responsible for job creation and work hand in hand with many other sectors, enhancing their offerings and revenue. They drive innovation and enable businesses to develop creative solutions to tackle competition and other challenges.

While the arts and humanities have always been cherished in the GCC, perhaps it is time to focus on these areas again to enhance engagement in creative pursuits. Educational institutions can increase the scope of arts and creativity by adding more extra-curricular options and hosting competitions and exhibitions to encourage interest in the area. They can also collaborate with creatives in the region, people as well as organisations, including museums, galleries, studios and festivals.

This will also support hiring goals of many organisations, who will be interacting with the next crop of talent ahead of them formally entering the job market. Internally, organisations can also encourage creativity through team-building activities, inviting creative inputs from employees, and having greater internal transparency about how closely their business engages with the arts.

Art and culture set nations apart in the global arena, so these serve as attractive options for investors, who can engage with creative professionals for business ventures that support the creative industries, create jobs and have the potential to be profitable in the future.

Financial institutions across the region can encourage growth in creative industries by offering preferential rates to entrepreneurs who wish to follow artistic pursuits. Financing is often a challenge for creatives, who hold day jobs and may not have the capacity to commit to their talent full-time; but attractive financing options with flexible payment plans could help make their dreams a reality sooner rather than later.

The cultural landscape of countries are largely responsible for shaping tourism, and with modern technology such as AI bringing immersive experiences like never before, there are a growing number of approaches for nations to explore in order to attract travellers. Campaigns that highlight Middle Eastern art would make a notable impact on tourists across the globe, and there is also plenty of room to innovate and get visitors more closely involved in the local arts scene.

The GCC nations have come a long way and their heritage has played a prominent role in their development. As we move forward we must remember to preserve and develop the creative forces that have led us here, and continue to nurture the arts. Other sectors that contribute to the economy, too. But future generations will be thankful for inheriting traditions and values that have evolved with the times and driven growth in society.

Published: May 02, 2024, 9:00 AM