Opinion | Columnists

A new strategy to promote cultural and artistic excellence

It is necessary to underline how the potential for intellectual creativity is a very important part of the UAE’s human capital and wealth

  • By Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development
  • Published: 20:00 July 8, 2013
  • Gulf News

Since thinkers, artists and educated people are the ones who contribute to shaping the nation’s conscience, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development is now embracing a new approach to forge a fruitful cooperation with them to enrich the cultural scene in the country. This cooperation is mainly aimed at stressing the ministry’s role in communicating with you as symbols of intellect, culture and arts, supporting and motivating you as well as celebrating your achievements.

As leaders of thought, who are fully aware of the nation’s pulse and community awareness, we are always proud of you and pin broad hopes and aspirations on you that you are truly able to create and achieve what will reinforce our allegiance and loyalty to this nation, as well as our adherence to its history, heritage, progress and achievements as well as its people and leadership.

Your are the ones who are completely capable of fulfilling our desired goal of making the UAE a hub for thought, culture and arts regionally and globally — the position it deserves with competence — the main objective of our collaborative work in the next phase.

Our meeting marks the beginning of a new path and yet an occasion that will be repeated. It exemplifies my own personal conviction of several essential themes and matters that I would like to refer to, at the beginning of my work as the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development:

The first thing is my strong keenness to thank you for your efforts and creative works and activities while expressing my great pride and appreciation of your contributions and output. Meanwhile, I would like to convey to you the recognition of the leadership and the nation of your pioneering role in shaping the nation’s conscience and enriching the community and people’s lives.

The leadership and the nation greatly appreciate your leading roles in expressing our hopes and aspirations as well as your deep and strong keenness on preserving the nation’s heritage and development.

They also appreciate your continued role in communicating with the other and disseminating the principles of tolerance and peace at home and worldwide. We highly appreciate your notable role in consolidating national sentiments as well as your efforts to emphasise the country’s ability to successfully deal with various issues and challenges and your endeavours to mobilise the efforts of all community members to achieve our goals and objectives.

Also, we highly appreciate the role of and contributions made by public and private institutions operating in the field of culture and arts across the country and at both the local and federal levels.

The UAE’s leadership and society pin much hope on you and that you will continue to give the nation, empowered with the talents and abilities that Allah gifted you. I also convey to you the society’s commitment to providing all kinds of support and assistance to carry on with your march of creativity.

Second, I emphasise my keen desire to collectively focus on the fundamental values and principles that signify the march of the nation, which is deeply rooted in history — a nation with deep heritage, history and culture; a nation that has an ancient and prestigious cultural structure supported by sincere people who are makers of civilisation and history. This cultural structure is boosted by a distinguished and an elite selection of artists, writers and thinkers — achievements of which are always highly praised by the country’s wise leadership, which encourages enlightened thought and supports creativity and innovation and is committed to satisfying its people and achieving the quality of life.

The conscious and rational leadership of the UAE, represented by President His Highness, Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has laid down the foundations for a strong and developed country that enjoys security and stability. The leadership reflects in words and deeds the principles of cooperation and interaction with other cultures and civilisations.

I am honoured on behalf of all of you to extend to Shaikh Khalifa, the father and the leader, and Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, the greatest expression of reverence and appreciation and the most sincere words of respect and loyalty in recognition of their efforts in boosting the country’s march and enabling it to occupy a unique and leading position in the world.

We are honoured to pledge allegiance that we will always be loyal soldiers who work with dedication and devote their lives for the sake of their nation, and our pledge that we will work together to establish a national successful environment for culture and arts, characterised by creativity, to help fulfil the desired goals and develop our nation.

In my opinion, my meeting with you is an expression of the society’s trust in your crucial role in raising the nation’s stature of the nation. It also comes in support of your current and future efforts to make the UAE a vital and rich ground for creative output and great contribution to culture and arts. We want the UAE to serve as a bridge between civilisations and cultures in a harmonious manner.

The third thing that I emphasise is our strong keenness to create a big cultural and artistic movement that touches the pulse of the people and the essence of society, while strongly consolidating national cohesion.

This movement is aimed at shaping the public awareness and deepening their understanding of the world around them, with emphasise on national values and principles.

The Ministry is striving to achieve the sought-after progress in the fields of culture and arts. Also, I would personally work continuously to overcome all difficulties so as to be able to fulfil our aspirations.

Our culture in the UAE is an Arab- Islamic culture associated with nation’s identity, and preserves its values and civilisation that stem from our true religion and authentic pan-Arabism. Our culture is a global culture that enhances our humanity belonging, and takes into account cultural diversity in the world. It is a culture that encompasses man in general, his spirit, his mind, his will, his beliefs, habits and behaviour. It is also a practical and rational culture that calls on those gifted with understanding hearts to meditate, contemplate and reflect. It is also a realistic culture combining firmness and flexibility: It is firm towards all things that form eternally established beliefs including faith, worship and morality. It is flexible in the sense that it is open to the other cultures. We seek that this culture, which we want to enrich through this comprehensive and balanced concept, to be at the centre of the UAE’s march. I would like to mention some points, which will have a significant impact on our cultural and creative scene.

First: I say and repeat that we are in the process of preparing and launching ambitious plans for the revitalization and development of the literary, cultural and artistic climate in the country.

We adopt the concept of “literature, theatre and art for all”, in a way that meets the needs of all segments of society, and stimulates all their positive energies and fruitful and creative initiatives.

We are keen on strongly communicating with intellectuals and artists in order to underscore together, through clear and definite plans and results, the role of culture and arts in achieving economic development in the society.

We also aim to underline how the potential for intellectual and artistic creativity is a very important part of the nation’s human capital and wealth and how creative industries, which are based on the intellectual and artistic output, plays a very important role in successful economic development.

We should always remember that the successful cultural development is a prerequisite to achieve sustainable economic and social progress. I am sure that culture and community development is strongly connected. Culture contributes to achieving the society’s success and safety, and the successful society, in turn, provides means of support and assistance for artists and writers.

Second: Linking culture with community development and deepening the role of culture in achieving the quality of life, we will encourage you to address your literary and artistic output — not only to the society and the world, but also to children, youth and women. The aim is to educate the youth and children and get them used to interact positively with society. As part of this effort, you would provide them with opportunities for entertainment and the essentials for building the spirit and sentiments. You would help them battle challenges facing them in this age and select the talented ones among them who are qualified to work in literary and artistic fields.

We take special care of children’s literature and the tools of cultural and artistic communication with youth would be an important and essential part of our activities in the future. Women should be given all opportunities to play their pivotal role in the field of thought, as we know that Emirati women are able to prove themselves and establish a strong footing in the area of culture and arts.

Third: While emphasising the role of culture in community development, I truly wish that you would offer your outstanding literary and artistic works that will enrich libraries, enhance the museums’ activities and get theatres, galleries and broadcasters buzzing with activity.

I hope that your output would sincerely express and reflect the nation’s spirit, its history, language and heritage and its desired future, and that it would be a tool and way to deepen the nation’s developed and long-standing cultural and artistic relations with the world.

Regarding state support and intensive awards, I would like to reassure you that I am determined to follow up on this issue and provide all the required conditions for establishing an efficient cultural and intellectual structure.

Fourth: I assure you that plan for supporting thinkers and creative people will be part of an integrated strategy, currently being prepared, to achieve the real cultural development in the country. This strategy has many themes, for example but not limited to the following:

* Enhancing national identity.

* Annual cultural festivals.

* Cultural and artistic creativity.

* Libraries.

* Heritage.

* Art Education and unlocking talents and hobbies.

* Creation of creativity venues and the possibility of establishing an arts academy.

* Partnerships with individuals and organisations at home and abroad and coordinating with all UAE cultural and art foundations.

* Ways to making culture and arts enjoyable to all members of society and not just an activity confined to a certain elite.

* Activating the principle of ‘Culture for All’ and enhancing the cultural and artistic cooperation with foreign communities.

* Foreign cultural relations.

This is besides qualifying and development of human resources in this important sector through educational and training programmes, organisation of theatres, publishing houses, display places, allocation of awards and holding festivals as well as training the whole society to acquire cultural and artistic taste to inject vitality and activity in the entire field of art and culture.

As you express the nation’s rich culture and give the UAE society broad hopes for the future, we have to emphasise that the ministry’s new ambitious strategy stresses the importance of the artistic and cultural creativity in our daily lives and its role in community development. We are committed to providing you with a supportive environment for innovation and output, as well as with policies that help take pride in it. We will also encourage outstanding works and help you advance the local culture towards global horizons. We will help you be an important and effective player in the march of society, contributing to its building, participating in preserving its values and principles and even putting its interests above all other considerations.

I am fully convinced that the UAE is perfectly and well prepared to witness a major breakthrough in culture and arts, thus consolidating its pivotal status in the globe.

As we are in the process of preparing a comprehensive strategy, we are very keen to support artistic and cultural creativity with your active participation. You are the source of creativity and inspiration, and are well familiar with real conditions in the cultural sphere. I urge you to think deeply and come up with proposals based on your expertise, to help vitalise and enrich the cultural scene.

As we are adopting a new approach to advance the cultural environment, we encourage thinkers and artists to make effective contributions and produce outstanding work. I hope to receive your proposals within a month from now, and assure you that we will respond to your constructive proposals and meaningful recommendations.

There is a long way ahead, we need to think and work together within the framework of a common vision for the future of culture and arts in the country. We should have the desire and be committed to providing the highest quality and best work and be prepared to take the responsibility in the interest of the nation.

This article is based on excerpts of Shaikh Nahyan’s speech which he delivered last Wednesday to a gathering of intellectuals, poets and artists at the Ajman Cultural Centre.

Gulf News
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