ABU DHABI // Long before the skyscrapers and sports cars arrived, Emiratis prided themselves on traditional skills that were passed down the generations. Handicrafts such as khoos palm leaf weaving, saddoo wool weaving, and distinctive embroidery known as telli, were as much a staple of Emirati culture as falconry, pearl diving and camel husbandry. They were complimented with other traditional skills in pottery, jewellery, leather work and wood work.
Now, as the emirate faces unprecedented growth and a ever growing influx of nationalities, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) has launched an appeal to archive items made using traditional methods that could otherwise be forgotten. The campaign, called Turathna meaning "our heritage", also aims to identify potential craftsman and women who could produce handicrafts and pass the skills on to others.
Mohammed Khalaf al Mazrouei, the ADACH director general, said traditional handicrafts were an intrinsic part of the UAE's heritage. He added that it was important to get the community involved to make the campaign a success. Turathna starts on Sunday and lasts for a week. During the event, any national with a handicraft item is asked to bring it to one of several open days where the objects will be photographed, referenced and returned to the owner with a certificate of appreciation.
ADACH is interested in items that are more than 30 years old. The open days will be held in Al Ain National Museum, on May 18 and 19; Al Hamdania Elementary School, in the Western Region, on May 20 and 21; and the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation from May 22 to 24.