Dr Riyad Nassan Agha, cultural adviser, Sultan Bin Zayed Centre for Culture and Media, Dr Rafia Obaid Gobash, president, Arab Network for Women in Science and Technology, and Dr Yousuf Al Hassan, director, Emirates Centre for Development Research, at the symposium on Monday. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Residents and visitors to the capital take for granted the increasingly towering structures that dot the city's landscape and all the modern amenities that make up life in the 21st century.

But a unique two-day symposium, organised by the Emirates Heritage Club and the Sultan Bin Zayed Centre for Culture and Media, which concluded yesterday, chronicles Abu Dhabi's development from a simple farming community in Liwa.

Located in what is known today as the Western Region, the farming community turned pearl divers and merchants before the discovery of oil and the subsequent explosion of development that has taken place since.


"We are celebrating the 250th anniversary of Abu Dhabi island … its exceptional development was achieved though the hard work of our forefathers and what has been accomplished since then, especially since the accession of Shaikh Zayed [Bin Sultan Al Nahyan], and the unification of the UAE. It is an inspiration and testament to how much has been achieved under the guidance of our wise leaders," Habib Al Sayegh, a renowned Emirati poet, said.


Al Sayegh spoke on behalf of the seminar's patron, Shaikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President's Representative and Chairman of the Emirates Heritage Club and the Sultan Bin Zayed Centre for Culture and Media.

In addition to tracing the history of Abu Dhabi island, the participating speakers and organisations presented recommendations on the best methods to continue researching and enhancing the current historical information compiled on the capital.


"Whenever development in Abu Dhabi is discussed, it is always done in a manner showing that is has simply leapt from a desert to modernity, neglecting the minor developments that occurred prior to oil being discovered … but it's important to point out that the first traces of human settlement on the island of Umm Al Nar [an island located off the coast of Abu Dhabi] are dated to over 6,000 years ago," Dr Brigitte Dumortier, Head of Department, Geography and Planning, Paris Sorbonne University, Abu Dhabi, said.

The State Appreciation and the Shaikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan awards will also be handed out for best research on the UAE in 40 years, as well as the award for the Best Photography on Abu Dhabi.