Shaikh Nahyan opened the UAE National Film Library and Archive at Zayed University, the first of its kind in the Gulf. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: A new library that will preserve the work of UAE film-makers for generations to come has been completed after incredible efforts exerted to collect the films just over a year ago.

The UAE National Film Library and Archive (UNFLA), the first of its kind in the region, has officially opened at Zayed University to include all narrative, feature and documentary films produced in the UAE as well as expatriate films that deal with the UAE.

Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, officially opened the library in the presence of major players in the media and film industry and several well-known Emirati directors and TV presenters.

UNFLA will include all books written by UAE film entities and business, films co-produced by UAE companies and festivals, winners in Emirates Film Competition, Gulf Film Festival and Zayed University Middle East Film Festival.

Dedicated to UAE films, the library will also preserve films in their original format, as well as scripts, translation, subtitles, posters, media clippings and other related material.

The films will not be allowed out of the library nor will they be available for public screening, except with the written permission of the rights holders.

“Many countries have lost their films due to misplacement, accidents, and wear and tear of time. This library, with the help of its supporters, guarantees that this will not be the fact of the UAE’s rapidly developing film history,” said Alia Younis, faculty director of Zayed University Middle East Film Festival and project director of the UAE National Film Library and Archive.

Alia also pointed out that so much of a nation’s history is wrapped in its films and it has been a wonderful experience for them to see how many Emirati filmmakers have been committed to supporting them.

The collection and preservation of the films also involved over 15 research assistants, mostly ZU undergraduate students, all of whom had received certificates of appreciation at the opening ceremony, which was held earlier on Tuesday at the ZU campus in the capital.

The current catalogue includes over 500 titles, both short and feature length films. The library is also a repository for related materials such as scripts, production stills, posters, and media coverage as well as the archival material for the UAE’s major film festivals, including the Abu Dhabi Film Festival and the Dubai International Film Festival.

“This library is an ongoing project. It will never be finished because it will always be growing,” Alia said.