From left: Manuel Rabaté; Sultan Saud Al Qasimi, founder of Burjeel Arts Foundation; and Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, with Joud Al Marar, senior external affairs officer of Louvre Abu Dhabi, during the discussion. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The country has invested a lot in education, innovation and know-how, now it’s time to invest in the fabric of culture, promote the creative spirit and facilitate cultural dialogue to take place, cultural brigades told a panel discussion forum in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

They stressed that it’s culture, arts and artefacts of a nation that tell the world who you are, where you come from and what your forefathers were recognised for.

Speaking at the panel discussion on ‘Diplomacy of Culture’ at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi, Huda Kanoo, founder of Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, said in her keynote address that cultural diplomacy could be achieved by investing in it.

“The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the most prominent investment made for the future. It’s the world’s most innovatively created museum that presents the course of human history in a universal dialogue focusing on how similar we all are,” she said.

The founding father of the nation, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, always emphasised that knowledge and culture are the cornerstones of civilisation, progress and nation building, she said. “The role of individuals in making a difference with the spirit to support and share is key. They are the inspirational leaders who establish a narrative from which cultural diplomacy can flourish,” Kanoo said.

“Shaikh Zayed always highlighted the importance of cultural diplomacy, and to do this we have to invest in the fabric of culture itself — in artists, ambassadors of cultural diplomacy, youth, free creative spirits, innovators and ideas — and allow cultural dialogue to take place,” Kanoo said.

She stated that the country has invested a lot in education, knowledge and know-how but now it needs to invest in culture. “We have to tell our stories to the world following the path of Shaikh Zayed.”

She urged students of Emirates Diplomatic Academy to spread the UAE’s culture across the world, fight for peace and defeat fanaticism.

Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, chairman of UAE Unlimited, was also among the panellists. He laid stress on the identity of national arts, works and artefacts, saying these should be preserved, and “we should strive to bring them back if they have gone to other countries”.

He said, “The nationalistic pride goes with arts. The museums and foundations around the world make sure that they actually hold on to the best art produced in their countries, and if they lost it, they try to get it back.

“If I go to the US, I wouldn’t look for French art, though they have a substantial [amount] of it, but [I would look for] the local works. We need to preserve our art and culture so that we don’t need to go to another country to see our arts — as happened in some countries in the West.”

Now, Abu Dhabi has laid stress on art and culture significantly and more art galleries and cultural foundations are coming up in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island.

Manuel Rabaté, director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said, “Investments in culture must continue. Like Louvre Abu Dhabi having a 10-year contract with France, 10 years are a natural time to build collections, contents and nurture the culture appropriately.”

So you should collect and preserve arts of the country, he said.