Abu Dhabi Manuscripts Conference focuses on UAE’s rich heritage
Abu Dhabi: The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi)’s third edition of the Abu Dhabi Manuscripts Conference begins today to highlight the cultural efforts of the UAE and Abu Dhabi in preserving and disseminating authentic Arab heritage.
Representatives from the Italian and Spanish embassies are participating in the two-day conference, which will also feature scholars, specialists and experts in the field of Arabic manuscripts from the two European countries and various parts of the Arab world.
Held under the theme ‘Arabic Manuscripts from East to West: Spain and Italy as a Model’, the conference is being organised by DCT Abu Dhabi in coordination with the National Marciana Library of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, the University Library of Bologna in Italy, the National Library of Spain, and Royal Library of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
On the sidelines of the conference, the Pearls of Wisdom exhibition has been launched at Qasr Al Watan, Abu Dhabi’s Presidential Palace, and continue until Januray 6, 2023. It will showcase valuable manuscripts in the fields of literature, heritage, religion, music, philosophy, and science, and the exhibition will take visitors on a historical journey that deliberates the influence of Arab culture on Europe. It will also highlight the role of Arab civilisation in generating religious dialogue and contributing knowledge that paved the way for the European Renaissance.
“Today, more than ever, we need to highlight cultural exchange as the driving engine for growth and progress. As such, we have chosen ‘Arabic Manuscripts from East to West’ to be the theme for this edition of the Abu Dhabi Manuscripts Conference, as this topic provides us with a wealth of subject matter to tap into the profound reach and influence of Arab and Islamic civilisation. This event is an important element of DCT Abu Dhabi’s wider efforts to promote inter-cultural cooperation and knowledge sharing, establishing Abu Dhabi as a place where cultures meet to interact and build a more diverse, conscientious, and understanding society,” said Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, undersecretary at DCT Abu Dhabi.
“Spain is honoured to participate in this unique cultural initiative organised by DCT Abu Dhabi. It will be a great opportunity to highlight the invaluable importance of Arabic manuscripts from East to West, analysing their influence on European history. Some of the Arabic manuscripts are jewels from the collections of the National Library of Spain and the Royal Library of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and have never been displayed to the public. All visitors to the exhibition Pearls of Wisdom at Qasr Al Watan will have the privilege to enjoy them for the first time outside of Spain, in Abu Dhabi. Our joint initiative will promote knowledge and cultural exchange about common history, strengthening bridges for dialogue and mutual understanding between Spain and the UAE,” added Iñigo de Palacio España, Ambassador of Spain to the UAE.
“We are pleased to participate, together with the Spanish Embassy, in this international event organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, to witness and further nurture the research, confrontation, and exchange between the Arab world and Europe in literature and science. Our country has always loved books, its own and also those of others, as this exhibition confirms. Our libraries are among the most important in the world in terms of quantity and quality of ancient books, and in Pearls of Wisdom, we wanted to display a sample of our most precious collections, Arabic manuscripts from the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice and the University Library in Bologna. I thank the government of Abu Dhabi for hosting this exhibition in the wonderful setting of the Presidential Palace,” added Lorenzo Fanara, Italian Ambassador to the UAE.
“This exhibition and the international colloquium that forms its backdrop testifies to the Emirati public the journey of books from the Arab world to Europe and, at the same time, the journey of knowledge, a journey that enlightened medieval Europe and, through translations, guided it towards the flowering of the Renaissance. A similar thing had happened earlier in Baghdad, with the reception of Greek, Indian and Persian books and the great cultural flowering of the Abbasid period. The Arab world exported to us not only sciences, such as astronomy, mathematics, medicine and more, but also forms of literature and poetry. All this Europe accepted and developed, mediating and integrating according to its own identity and sensibility. We live today in a global and hyper-connected world, where knowledge is immediately communicated everywhere, but certainly the journey of books has not lost its appeal,” added Dr. Ida Zilio-Grandi, director of the Italian Cultural Institute at the Italian Embassy.