Sharjah: Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA) and Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) have launched the UAE’s first-of-its-kind Augmented Reality (AR) experience that brings the Resistance Monument’s story to life.
The project, in Khor Fakkan city which was recently crowned ‘Best Arab Tourist City for 2023’ by The Arab Union for Tourist Media, comes in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Youth.
Manal Ataya, Director General of SMA; Najla Al Midfa, the CEO of Sheraa; Dr. Sohail Dahdal, Founder and Creative Director of Fifth Wall Immersive Media Lab and a number of senior official were present at the launch ceremony
Following a welcome note by Manal Ataya and a keynote by Najla Al Midfa, a presentation by Dr Sohail explained the cutting-edge technology used in the project, while a short film featured behind-the-scenes footage of the development process, including testing and refining.
Real time experience
A number of guests who were invited to try out the new technology and experience the immersive environment, were impressed with how natural and intuitive it felt to interact with the surrounding and objects using body movements.
Using natural movement and creating 3D animated story that is aware of the space by employing area target AR tracking, the experience allows people to interact with the physical environment of the Resistance Monument and its objects, and to interact seamlessly with the museum’s physical space and objects with astonishing accuracy.
Khor Fakkan's heroic resistance
It provides a unique storytelling of Khor Fakkan’s heroic resistance during the Portuguese invasion in 1507, combining artificial intelligence gaze technology with the latest AR Foundation technology.
The main character featured in the project is inspired from the award-winning Khor Fakkan film, which was based on a book titled Khor Fakkan’s Resistance Against the Portuguese Invasion of September 1507, authored by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah and produced by Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (SBA).
Mubarak Al Nakhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and Youth, said: “We commend the efforts of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center “Sheraa” and its keenness to support the creative economy.”
“Sheraa is investing its resources in harnessing the power of technology to serve the cultural and creative industries (CCI) sector. The Ministry seeks to enhance the CCI sector by supporting programs such as Access Sharjah that support and foster small and medium enterprises in the field as an initiative of the National Strategy for Cultural and Creative Industries (Creative UAE),” he added.
Commenting on the partnerships that brought this project to life, Manal Ataya, Director General of SMA, said: “In today’s interconnected world, fostering local and international collaboration and partnerships plays a crucial role in the success and growth of museums by allowing sharing resources, knowledge, and expertise, leading to more innovative projects, programs, exhibitions, and research initiatives.”
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She added: “SMA is committed to providing its visitors with immersive and enriching experiences that allow them to engage with the exhibits in new and exciting ways and enhance their understanding and appreciation of history.”
“By incorporating cutting-edge technologies, we can create a truly interactive and engaging environment that captures the imagination of our visitors and helps them connect more deeply with the history and culture we are showcasing,” Ataya said.
The project which reflects one of SMA’s main goals of fostering sustainable development and forging new partnerships to enrich future generation of creative thinkers with knowledge and skills, is an outcome of the Access Sharjah Challenge, launched by Sheraa, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Youth and in strategic partnership with the SMA and Air Arabia.
For her part, Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, said: “The success of 5th Wall’s innovative approach to storytelling through immersive media is a testament to the forward-thinking mindset of Sharjah’s start-up ecosystem. This collaboration with the Sharjah Museums Authority is a powerful demonstration of how strategic partnerships between start-ups and government entities can drive significant change and create new pathways for success.”
She added: “Sharjah’s commitment to nurturing a culture of innovation and creativity is propelling the emirate towards a more prosperous and sustainable future, positioning it as a leader in establishing new businesses. By nurturing the talents of entrepreneurs and offering them the resources and support necessary for success, we are stimulating economic growth, creating new industries, and ultimately having a positive impact on the lives of countless individuals throughout the region.”
Real museum experience
Dr. Sohail Dahdal the founder of 5th Wall, commented: “Winning the Access Challenge gave us an opportunity to implement the technologies we’ve been working hard on for years in a real museum experience.
“As a Sharjah-based company, we take pride in pushing boundaries and creating unique and immersive experiences with our first-of-its-kind AR museum experience project that is combining storytelling with state of the art AR target area technologies.”