(L to R) Dr Ines Abdel-Dayem, Minister of Culture of the Arab Republic of Egypt; Dr Mohamed Ould Amar, Director-General of Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organisation; and Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth and Chair of the 22nd Session of the Conference of Arab Culture Ministers, on Saturday at a media briefing at UAE Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Angel Tesorero/Gulf News

Dubai: Discussing diversity of human cultures at “the world’s largest cultural event”, Expo 2020 Dubai, will highlight the Arab region’s position as a springboard for cultural exchange.

This was underlined by Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, during a press conference on Saturday at the UAE Pavilion at Expo while announcing the 22nd session of the Conference of Arab Culture Ministers to be held Sunday and Monday 20 at Dubai Exhibition Centre at Expo.

“This session of the [conference] is truly momentous for being held in conjunction with [Expo], the largest cultural event in the world that celebrates the diversity of human cultures and gives the opportunity to learn about the cultures of 192 countries,” said Al Kaabi.

“Events such as these reiterate the Arab region’s position as a springboard for cultural exchange and encourage meaningful and constructive human and cultural convergence. The conference also marks the World Arabic Language Day [December 18].”

The conference comes within the framework of cooperative relations between the Ministry of Culture and Youth and Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO) in areas of joint Arab cultural work and opening new horizons for the development cultural projects that will elevate the status of Arab culture regionally and globally.

Also present at the press conference were ALECSO director general Dr Mohamed Ould Amar and Dr Ines Abdel Dayem, Minister of Culture of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Arabic language

Al Kaabi said that in 1973 Arabic was adopted as an official language at the United Nations (UN). “This was a decision that underlined the status of Arabic as a global language. Arabic is the language of more than 420 million people worldwide and has played a pivotal role in enriching human civilisation and made key contributions to science during the golden period of Arab civilisation,” she added.

Hope amidst the pandemic

Al Kaabi said a powerful contribution of culture is to provide hope amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. “This conference is taking place at a time when the world is experiencing many challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Culture, creativity and arts have given people hope to face the pandemic when the world was witnessing lockdowns. This goes to show why we need to pay special attention to our cultural and creative industries and strengthen them so that they can become a major contributor to sustainable development,” she added.

Al Kaabi said: “The UAE is keen to strengthen the existing relations and partnership with ALECSO in aspects related to all areas of the organisation’s work, as it is an active partner in leading Arab cultural cooperation efforts and enhancing coordination at the level of Arab countries. Hosting the conference is a translation of our leadership’s vision to support Arab culture as the link between the people of the region, and it confirms ALECSO’s pivotal role in this field”.

The agenda of the conference centres includes modernising and developing a comprehensive plan for promoting Arab culture and cultural cooperation between Arab nations and the world.

“We also aim to unify Arab efforts in various cultural fields, including joint efforts to register intangible heritage with UNESCO and develop the cultural and creative industries in the region. The conference will discuss the role of Sheikha Alyazia bint Nahyan Al Nahyan, who was appointed the Ambassador for Arab Culture by ALECSO,” said the minister.

Cultural integration

Dr Ould Amar stressed on the importance of the strategic partnership between ALECSO and the UAE, and its role in achieving cultural integration among Arab countries. He also highlighted the role of culture in promoting dialogue and peace and mending relations between nations.

“Top on the agenda for ALECSO is the joint Arab cultural project, which needs to be executed as a priority. Arab countries need to forge cooperation in the field of cultural and heritage protection and support cultural institutions in the region,” he said.

Enhanced communication

Dr Dayem said: “We aim to review the comprehensive plan for Arab culture and seek new ways to enhance communication and cultural cooperation between Arab countries. While we look back at the accomplishments of the past several years, we shall also take stock of the current situation in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has put all cultural activities on the line, due to the social distancing protocol… We will implement a draft plan aimed at developing Arab culture and enhancing joint Arab work in the field.”