Prince Charles and Camilla at Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain during their three-day tour of the UAE in November last year. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom are joining efforts in the year ahead for a special collaboration to commemorate the long historical and cultural ties of friendship dating back centuries.

Spearheaded by the British Council in the UAE, the ‘UK-UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration’ will see a wide array of partners gather for special celebrations throughout the year ranging from concerts and operas to public art displays and a film festival.

According to the British Council, the programme will feature three key themes focused on Next Generation, Community and Inclusion.

“The Year of Creative Collaboration aims to increase the visibility of the UK in the UAE and vice versa in order to give greater focus, depth and contemporary relevance to the long-standing relationship between our two nations. The unique cultural programme will strengthen existing relationships and broker new ones between our people, institutions and businesses,” said the British Council.

“We will explore the role culture plays in shaping the societies of tomorrow. Through an innovative programme of high-quality projects, we will stimulate and inspire the next generation and look towards future collaboration between the UK and the UAE.”

The programme is being held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the Prince of Wales.

Robin Mason, Pro-Vice-Chancellor International of University of Birmingham, told Gulf News that as one of the key partners, the university will help explore both cultures in months ahead.

“We will work closely with the British Council as part of the wider UK cultural team which is participating in the UK-UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration,” he said. “The programme celebrates a range of traditional, visual and performing arts throughout 2017. Institutions and organisations across the UAE and the UK will contribute to the programme of cultural exchange, which will include arts, literature, education, society, sport, science and trade,” Mason said.

“The year marks common values that are shared by the UK and the UAE. Both our countries share a deep respect for and appreciation of other cultures, ethnicities, languages, religions, and beliefs. Each is committed to pursuing global peace and the joys of civilisation.”

The programme was launched on November 7 at the Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain where the Prince of Wales, during a visit to the UAE, presented an exclusive copy of the Birmingham Quran manuscript to Shaikh Mohammad.

Mason said that as part of Birmingham University’s “contribution to the programme, we will be mounting an exhibition about the Birmingham Quran and Mingana Collection in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This will feature a digital form of the Birmingham Quran manuscript — one of the world’s oldest surviving examples of this holy work.”

He noted that the university is working with the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, which will support the programme.

According to Mason, the Birmingham Quran manuscript is a “remarkable fragment of history. Part of the University’s Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts, it consists of two leaves containing parts of Suras [chapters] 18 to 20 and dates back to the sixth century. For many years, the pages had been mis-bound with leaves of a similar Quran manuscript, which are datable to the late seventh century. It was only by separating the two leaves and analysing the parchment that University staff were able to bring to light an amazing find within the collection.”

It was revealed last year to be among the “earliest surviving records of the Quran, written in Hijazi, an early form of Arabic script, which evolved in the Hijaz region of the Arabian Peninsula, an area that encompasses the Islamic holy cities of Makkah and Madinah,” Mason said.

UK-UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration themes

Next Generation

Programmes will help to provide young people with the skills and knowledge they require to become future leaders, and provide spaces for dialogue and discussion on issues of importance to both nations.

2. Community

Public art works and site-specific performances, installations and events suitable for all ages will be held in public spaces such as parks and shopping malls.

The programmes will see artists brought together to promote the value, understanding and enjoyment of art and culture among young people across the UAE. They will capture the energy and enthusiasm of a vibrant generation of artists and professionals. Partnership between British and Emirati cultural institutions will ensure meaningful connections between artists, professionals and audiences.

3. Inclusion

Programmes will be developed to encourage the participation of all members of society including those with special needs, the elderly, the disabled and those located outside of the major cities. Digital technology will be used to reach those unable to experience the programmes in person.

(SOURCE: www.britishcouncil.ae/en/uk-uae-2017)

2017 Events

* Birmingham Quran Manuscript

* UK and UAE Short Film Festival

* BBC Proms Dubai with BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers

* Art in the Public Realm

* Welsh National Opera at Dubai Opera

* Royal Institute of British Architects shop fronts

* Science Stand at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

* UK Musicians in Residence

* Craft Makers at Design Days Dubai