Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Ras Al Khaimah's ambitious archaeological project reminds us of the region's rich history

By 2022, the emirate’s Antiquities and Museums Department aims to have catalogued 90,000 ancient objects

Around 20,000 archaeological artefacts have been documented by RAK Antiquities and Museums Department, as part of a three-year plan to. Reem Mohammed/The National
Around 20,000 archaeological artefacts have been documented by RAK Antiquities and Museums Department, as part of a three-year plan to. Reem Mohammed/The National

In a dynamic nation such as the UAE, hurtling towards the future as if there were no tomorrow, Ras al Khaimah’s ambitious project to restore and document tens of thousands of historical artefacts is a welcome reminder that there is far more to this country than its surface glories. By 2022, the emirate’s Antiquities and Museums Department aims to have examined, preserved and catalogued 90,000 archaeological objects, many of which were unearthed at ancient sites decades ago, and about which little is known.

In essence, the department has set itself the daunting task of piecing together a gargantuan historical jigsaw puzzle. By the time it is complete, a far more detailed picture of a past dating back millennia will have emerged. The initiative complements the work of other projects, such as the Arabian Gulf Digital Archive, which The National has been featuring in a series of articles highlighting moments in time captured by this invaluable online collection of historical documents and photographs.

Few nations are as forward-facing as the UAE, a country whose great cities have risen rapidly from the desert sands and which, in a generation, has become a global byword for progress and technological innovation. The UAE’s ambitions are no longer earthbound. In just two months the first Emirati astronaut will throw off the shackles of gravity. Next year – as Ras al Khaimah’s Antiquities and Museums Department continues its painstaking exploration of the past – the UAE will become the first Arab country to despatch a spacecraft to Mars.

But pride in those whose imagination and courage are helping to shape the UAE’s future must be balanced with gratitude for those devoted to rediscovering and preserving the past, for this is the foundation upon which the UAE has been built. A nation that understands and takes pride in its history can move forward with confidence, certain of the path it has followed and sure of the direction in which it must travel. Projects such as that unfolding in Ras al Khaimah ensure the UAE will never lose sight of the place from which it came.

Updated: July 23, 2019 02:08 AM

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