ABU DHABI // Palestinian culture will be showcased in Abu Dhabi and Emirati heritage will be on display in Jerusalem as part of the 2009 Arab Capital of Culture celebrations. The year-long series of events in Jerusalem, the chosen capital for this year's event, are expected to start at the end of March. Corresponding events are planned across the Arab world including in the UAE.
"A week of Palestinian culture will take place in Abu Dhabi and we will also be making a week of Emirati culture in Jerusalem," said Maysaa Harb, cultural attaché at the Palestinian Embassy. While details are incomplete, the event in Abu Dhabi will showcase Palestinian history, heritage and culture through a series of activities, lectures, performances and exhibitions. Last week, Abdul Rahman Mohammed al Owais, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, met Ms Harb and Khairi al Oraidi, the Palestinian ambassador to the UAE, to discuss details of the celebrations.
During the meeting Dr al Owais emphasised the special status that Jerusalem holds for many in the UAE, WAM, the state news agency reported. "Jerusalem is a special case for Arabs as it is located in the heart of the Arab world and all Arabs want to share in this, especially in the UAE," Ms Harb said. Every year Arab ministers of culture choose a different city to host the Arab Capital of Culture, in a process organised by the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation.
Sharjah was named as the capital of culture in 1998. Damascus was the capital last year. Next year, it will be Doha. Celebrations in Jerusalem were due to begin in January, but were delayed until March after Israel's 23-day bombardment of Gaza. On the 2009 event's website, the organisers reaffirm East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and emphasise the need to maintain the city's Arab identity. East Jerusalem has been occupied by Israel since 1967.
"This is so important in our case to say that Jerusalem is an Arab capital," Ms Harb said. "The city also has a big religious importance for all religions, with a very rich culture. We would encourage people to go to Jerusalem to support them and see for themselves." firstname.lastname@example.org