x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

The Ali Column: Investing in cultural projects a necessity

Why cultural initiatives will benefit the UAE for generations to come

As a cultural expert in the UAE it's always a joy for me to see all the various projects that our Government is actively pursuing. If I think about it, my country is actually a "cultural mecca". Here, I have all the entertainment and sophistication my heart desires.

It hasn't always been this way. It has required several simultaneous developments over the past couple of years which has led to intense investments in different areas that our culture is built on.

We have all kinds of cultural projects going on. Some are environmentally oriented, such as the EWS/WWF Gulf Turtles Conservation Project, while others are more culturally themed, such as the Saadiyat Island Project with the Cultural District in Abu Dhabi or the Indian Club in Dubai. We also have events and festivals that are based on international competitions, such as the UAE International Date Palm Festival, the Abu Dhabi Falconry Competition, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Sharjah International Book Fair and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi Art and of course the many international festivals in Dubai.

All of these projects directly reflect the way we deal with cultural diversity in the UAE. Despite the challenges, we embrace diversity as a combination of our own cultural heritage as well as foreign influences. At the same time, we are determined to share our unique visions as a nation with others. Sharing is also one of our virtues. And by sharing, we spread knowledge that lets us grow beyond our national borders.

If these projects were not so important to us, we wouldn't invest so much of our money and energy into it. Most of the time, our cultural projects are successful, but not always. A lot of times, we only see the result but forget the effort behind them all. Indeed, it takes a lot of time for a project to develop. Not only that, it also takes many minds for an investment to become successful. Everyone who is involved needs to be patient because building a cultural project is not the same as building a city in which you immediately see the results.

Our success depends a great deal on the commitment of everyone, both natives and foreigners, who lives in our country and is or wants to be part of us.

We as Emiratis, on the one hand, have a lot to share: geographically, traditionally, culturally and socially. On the other hand, the expatriates who come here have valuable expertise, ideas and skills that they can invest in our society. Together, we can not only create understandings and offer unique insights but can also raise awareness on issues that affect us all. This approach should benefit our generation and the generations to come.