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His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: Dubai has been selected to host in 2025 the 27th ICOM General Conference, the largest museums conference in the world, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, tweeted on Saturday.

ICOM is the International Council of Museums that elects which city will host its flagship conference, which has been held every three years since 1948.

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On Saturday, Sheikh Mohammed said on his Twitter account that the ICOM conference in Dubai in 2025 will bring together 119 countries covering 20,000 international museums, which will give a strong impetus to the UAE’s cultural sector. "Our international museums in our beloved emirate and our national museums throughout the country will lead the global debate on the future of museums at this huge international conference," he said.

Also on Saturday, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, tweeted: “Dubai wins the hosting of the largest global conference for museums, ICOM 2025. More than 4,000 professionals from 119 countries will gather to discuss one topic, 'The Future of Museums' in the city of the future, Dubai. We would like to thank Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and Member of the Dubai Council, Dubai Culture, Dubai Municipality and Dubai Tourism for their efforts to host the global event.”

Future-focused theme

The development marks the first time that the conference will be held in the Arab region. ICOM congratulated the UAE in being selected to host the conference in 2025.

ICOM UAE had presented the bid to host the conference under theme ‘The Future of Museums in Rapidly Changing Communities, focusing on change, recovery, accessibility, and transparency’.

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, tweeted: “We congratulate the UAE and Dubai for winning the bid to host ICOM 2025, the largest museum conference in the world. 119 countries containing 20,000 international museums will gather in Dubai, cementing the UAE's position on the global cultural map. The world always chooses the UAE as a platform to meet and discuss its most important humanitarian, economic and cultural issues.”

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and Member of the Dubai Council, said: “Dubai’s hosting of ICOM 2025 General Conference proves that our leadership’s investment to consolidate cultural and knowledge work in Dubai and the UAE as a whole is truly successful, with global resonance through several important cultural and civilisational edifices as well as by organising major cultural events. The 27th ICOM conference in Dubai will be an opportunity to mobilise efforts, ideas and capabilities to enhance the role of all museums as protectors of human and knowledge heritage and enhance their cultural and societal role in a more effective manner.”

Successul bid 

Dubai's victory came following the voting round that was held at the meeting of ICOM's executive committee on 18 and 19 November, with the participation of over 130 members. Dubai's bid succeeded in obtaining 68 votes, beating Sweden's Stockholm (34 votes), and Russia's Kazan (20 votes).

ICOM General Conference is held once every three years. Its 25th edition was held in 2019 in Kyoto, Japan, and the 26th edition is scheduled to be held in Prague, Czech Republic in 2022.

The three cities nominated to host ICOM 2025 — Dubai, Stockholm and Kazan — each had made final presentations prior to the voting process that took place electronically. The efforts of the UAE’s chapter of ICOM (ICOM-UAE), in cooperation with Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), Dubai Municipality, and the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), resulted in presenting the city and its capabilities to earn it the bid.

Precious opportunity

Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, expressed her pride in this victory, which she described as an unprecedented Arab achievement, saying: "We are proud that the UAE and Dubai have been chosen to organise this conference, which is the largest cultural gathering of its kind in the world in the field of museums, with the attendance of more than 4,000 experts and specialists from 119 countries from around the world. Hosting ICOM 2025, the largest cultural gathering of its kind, constitutes a valuable opportunity to shed light on the historical and civilisational dimension of the UAE and Dubai and to present our history, heritage and culture to the world at the highest standards and levels."

Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture, affirmed that the UAE's hosting of ICOM 2025 in Dubai cements the emirate’s position as a prominent destination for cultural and knowledge exchange regionally and globally, adding: "The 27th ICOM General Conference aims to discuss the vital role of museums as cultural and educational destinations, in addition to exchanging knowledge and experiences with experts and specialists in this field, and uniting efforts to build societies that are more prepared and responsive to facing changes, thereby establishing a more sustainable future by benefiting from historical, cultural and scientific human achievements.”

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “Dubai’s hosting of ICOM 2025 reaffirms the emirate’s position as a capital of Arab and international excellence and that its investment over decades in pioneering thought, within a competitive race approach, was able to cement its position on the creative and innovation map. ICOM 2025 will be a broad global platform to highlight the efforts of Dubai and the UAE in preserving cultural, human, historical and scientific heritage locally, regionally and globally within a vision that makes the museum sector in the UAE a vital destination for thousands of visitors annually, from inside and outside the country, and an interactive tool capable of attracting the attention of various society members.”

Dawood Al Hajri, Director General of Dubai Municipality, said: “Dubai’s hosting of the 27th ICOM General Conference 2025 consolidates the reputation of the UAE and Dubai at the regional level as a hub for business and finance as well as an important cultural and civilisational beacon. Dubai, with its infrastructure that is the best in the region, and a social and cultural environment with the most diverse and integrating human spectrum of its kind, is a preferred choice for various international entities and institutions to host major global events."

50,000 specialists 

Founded in 1946 under the umbrella of the United Nations, ICOM is a global organisation specialised in the field of museums, their development and coordination. Its membership includes more than 50,000 specialists from nearly 120 countries, and nearly 20,000 museums around the world.

At the end of April 2021, the UAE chapter of ICOM (ICOM-UAE), in cooperation with Dubai Culture, Dubai Municipality, and Dubai Tourism, had submitted the UAE’s bid to host the ICOM General Conference 2025 in Dubai under the theme 'The Future of Museums in Rapidly Changing Communities.’ In appreciation of the UAE's position and Dubai's prominent role in the field of heritage preservation, and its advanced infrastructure in the field of designing and managing international museums, ICOM selected Dubai among the list of candidates to host the conference.

True to theme 

The theme statement from Dubai, posted on the ICOM website, reads: The world we live in today is vastly different from the one we used to know not so long ago. A torrent of events — a pandemic, massive protests, natural disasters, soaring inequalities, a technology and digital revolution, to name a few — has changed everything we thought we knew and led to the one thing we can be certain of: tomorrow will be uncertain.

“We are all trying to learn to cope, adapt, change, progress within a fast-changing environment, with some communities and people better equipped than others to face the changes.

“Our museums have been going through the same process, albeit not always at the same pace. As we seek to transform ourselves and relate to others, so do our museums. And that is the explorative journey we are proposing at the Conference: where might we go next, together – museums and communities, hand in hand, for a better future? We, as museum professionals and members of our communities need to recognise them and find ways to use them to our advantage and to the greater good, reinforcing our role as a social actor – activist, and an agent for changes.”