Abu Dhabi’s First Manuscripts Conference and Exhibition kicks off with a spectacular international attendance
Abu Dhabi’s first-ever Manuscripts Conference and Exhibition kicked off today at Manarat Al Saadiyat. Organised by the Department of Culture & Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and held under the theme ‘Arabic Manuscripts Reality and Issues’, the event is set to attract a wide attendance of officials, scholars and academics from around the world.
Over the course of the first two days, the Conference highlights DCT Abu Dhabi’s objectives in preserving the heritage, as well as providing solutions for manuscript preservation and documentation. The Conference will also feature six sessions where experts convene over the historical value of editing, publishing and preserving manuscripts, while the exhibition will run till 16th February, including family-friendly workshops on writing, the publishing industry and Arabic calligraphy which will be open to public and free to attend.
The inauguration event witnessed in attendance HE Mohammed Al Murr, Chairman of the Board of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library Establishment, HE Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, along with a number of officials, writers, and manuscript specialists.
HE Mohammed Al Murr, Chairman of the Board of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library Establishment said, “The Manuscripts Conference and Exhibition plays a significant role in preserving manuscripts and enriching heritage, as well as building bridges of cross-cultural dialogue and tolerance. Manuscripts help us in preserving culture, and are also a key tool in transferring knowledge to future generations. What we see in Abu Dhabi today is a strategic step on the journey of building and promoting the region’s history, and academic research.”
HE Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development said, “The Conference and Exhibition are a great way to observe the brilliant past, while also finding a way to a bright future; and also serves as an inspiration for scholars, historians, and scientists. This could not have been achieved, however, without DCT Abu Dhabi’s efforts in preserving this wealth of manuscripts.”
HE added: “We realise that Arabic manuscripts are this nation’s living memory, and represent its knowledge, cultural, and intellectual heritage accumulated over the years. They are a bright part of the long-standing Arabic – Islamic culture; and today we launch a new era of international cooperation in this direction.”
HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi said: “This Conference and Exhibition are aligned with our efforts at DCT – Abu Dhabi to contribute to the preservation of global heritage. These efforts encompass various initiatives and events, to encourage international cooperation and find the necessary solutions. Organising this event is a manifestation of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to preserve manuscripts, as a part of heritage.”
He further highlighted the UAE’s achievements in preserving and protecting heritage, leading to the UAE’s permanent membership of the Global Coalition for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones, to address the pressing matters in this field, allocation $15 million for the coalition. “On the local landscape, DCT Abu Dhabi has renovated a number of historical and cultural sites, as well as inscribed several elements of intangible cultural heritage on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
HE Al Mubarak added: “Over the past five decades, the UAE has been able to leave its unique imprint in preserving heritage for future generations, working to preserve and nurture our long-lasting heritage, based on the values of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.”
Abdulla Majid Al Ali, Acting Executive Director of the Dar Al Kutub Sector, DCT Abu Dhabi, said, “This conference, coinciding with the start of the ‘Year of Tolerance’, highlights the wealth values of intellectual, cultural, and religious tolerance embedded in centuries of Islamic heritage, encouraging co-existence and learning from one another. Our event will establish Abu Dhabi’s leading role in publishing and preserving Arabic heritage, and supporting scholars in the field, to enrich and preserve our culture, as these manuscripts represent our cultural heritage as a nation.”
First Day of the Conference
The first day included 3 keynote sessions. The first session titled ‘Arabic Manuscripts in Wars and Conflicts’ was moderated by Dr. Mohammed Ali Alshwabkha from Jordan with Dr. Nawwaf Abdulaziz Al Hagma from Kuwait, Dr. Aisha Zaid Maj from Yemen, Professor Naim Haimad and Professor Mohammed Ali Waset from Morocco.
The session featured various topics relating to preserving manuscripts during the conflict in Kuwait, the manuscripts in Yemen during the Houthi takeover, and the necessity of legal protection of Arabic manuscripts in times of war.
The second session focused on ‘Arabic manuscripts reality and indexing’ and was moderated by Dr. Abdullah Al-Munif from Saudi Arabia. The panel included Dr. Mustafa Mohammed Al Toubi and Dr. Abdulrazak Mohammed Marzouk from Morocco, Dr. Mohammed Kamel Mohammed Jad from Egypt, and Dr. Abdullah Assilan from Saudi Arabia. The panel discussed studying of Arabic manuscripts, scientific significance of Arabic manuscripts in El Escorial monastery, and documentation efforts of manuscripts in Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage.
The third session was moderated by Dr. Abdullah Ghalis from Kuwait and discussed documentation and publishing methods of Arabic heritage. The panel included Dr. Abdullah bin Saleh Al Falah, Dr. Ibrahim Al Batshan and Dr. Mohammed bin Dorra Al Omari from Saudi Arabi, and Dr. Mohammed Muslim Al Mohri from Oman.