Sheikha Alyazia to champion culture for Arab world

Member of UAE's royal family is first woman to be named Ambassador for Culture by the Arab League's Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation

Sheikha Fakhra bint Diab Al Nahyan, 9, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Diab Al Nahyan, 12, learn about their history and heritage at the Alesco event at Qasr Al Hosn.   Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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A member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family will champion culture across the Arab world after making history by winning a key role.

Sheikha Alyazia bint Nahyan Al Nahyan has been named Ambassador for Culture for the Arab League's Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (Alesco).

She is the first woman to be appointed to the position since the organisation was founded in 1975.

Sheikha Alyazia will be taking steps down the political path walked by her father, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, who is Minister of Tolerance and Coexistance, as well as her brother.

As an artist, director and producer, she is well suited to the task in hand.

In an interview with The National, the young mother of five told how she manages to fulfil her many duties and looked forward to getting started as a new ambassador.

“The main reason that this is possible is the feeling of confidence that my father instilled in me and my siblings. It gave us trust that we are able to get many things done. I owe it all to him”, she said at an event to announce her ambassadorship at Qasr Al Hosn in Abu Dhabi, also attended by Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth.

Her brother, Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan, was the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and was appointed Minister of State in February.

In 2007 she opened media company Anasy Media with two of her sisters, Sheikha Osha and Sheikha Shamsa.

A bold vision for the future

Sheikha Alyazia has ambitious plans for Alesco.

“Initially it is important to follow the long history of Alesco and meet their expectations,” she said.

“We want to expand the Digital Library of Inscriptions and do more research. I also think it is important to introduce positive habits in the Arab world. We need to get people more interested in going to the museum and history. We also want to show the values that come out of the Arab identity,” she said.

Alesco was established with the aim of promoting Arab knowledge on the global stage, through education, culture and sciences.

Sheikha Alyazia praised the efforts being made to promote culture in the UAE and its capital, which is already home to Louvre Abu Dhabi, with The Guggenheim on track to open in 2025.

“Abu Dhabi is taking huge strides to conserve its rich heritage and to open different dialogues and mindsets, however what we lack culturally is the integration of the different fields — merging the sciences with the art,” she said.

“Science with history or art, for example. This can be done through architecture or a poem based on the sciences.”

Mohamed Ould Amar, Director-General of Alesco, highlighted the importance of the role of Ambassador of Culture.

He said there was a need for a “redoubling of efforts so that we can face up to the myriad challenges with which we are all confronted at all levels, especially at the cultural level'.

“It is in this context that the 'Alesco Ambassadors for Culture' project was launched, with a view to imparting greater efficiency to the activities and initiatives of Alesco and enabling it to live up to the challenges ahead,” he said.

“Under this project, the organisation selects, on a periodic basis, an eminent group of distinguished cultural and artistic figures, to be appointed as Ambassadors of Arab Culture. It then works with them to attract media and public attention, in the Arab region and beyond, to the crucial cultural issues that constitute key areas of focus in Alesco’s mandate.”

Updated: October 16, 2021, 10:53 AM