x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

A more recent past

In many parts of the UAE old traditions have given way to modern comforts and style. But progress doesn't have to mean abandoning the treasures that make the country unique.

Stone tools excavated near Jebel Yaya. Pottery pieces on Sir Bani Yas. As interest in these and other discoveries illustrates, the UAE's most celebrated history is often its oldest. But an exhibit in Sharjah at the weekend demonstrates that a nation's recent past is also a highly treasured asset.

At the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information, officials threw open the door to an embattled Emirati tradition - the use of hand-carved and ornate entry ways. "The traditional Emirati door used to have lots of character", Abdul Aziz al Musallam of the Sharjah culture department tells The National today. These doors "told you a lot about the culture and tradition" of the people inside.

Crafted from teak and fashioned with iron and copper nails, these once-ubiquitous openings are being abandoned in favour of material with less cost, quality and character. As Mr al Musallam's efforts highlight, this is building trend worth reconsidering.

Aesthetics is only one of the reasons why. In many parts of the country old traditions and lifestyles have given way to modern comforts and style. Yet progress doesn't have to mean abandoning the art forms and traditions that make a culture unique. Whether its doors in Sharjah or dhows in Dubai, a nation's recent past should be protected and cherished, just as fiercefuly as its ancient and dusty artefacts.