x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Ain centre focusing on music of Islamic world will be global first

The centre will be dedicated to preserving the musical heritage of the Islamic world, a senior cultural official says.

Al Ain is to become home to the world's first centre dedicated to preserving the musical heritage of the Islamic world, a senior cultural official confirmed yesterday. Although the Al Ain Centre for Music in the World of Islam will not open until 2011, it will launch a schedule of events, research and outreach programmes almost immediately. "There is no centre in the entire world with such a specific scope," said Dr Sami al Masri, deputy director general and director of strategic planning at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach).

"It will cover aspects of musical history, including old instruments, archive musical scores and the sub-genres of folk music, which are rarely researched and never promoted." Ahead of a two-day conference in Abu Dhabi attended by 30 specialists in ethnic music and anthropology from 21 countries, Dr al Masri said that the long-term aim of the centre would be to establish a base of expertise in the region.

"Currently, people with professional capacities in this area are largely based in the West. We want the focus to be on preserving the knowledge in the Islamic world," he said. "Music is an important part of culture. It is an expression, linked to aspirations, habits and traditions. Especially by studying the types of music that are not often promoted, we can learn a lot about our history." Researchers at the centre will also study literature, calligraphy and architecture. "This will put the musical history in context," said Dr al Masri.

He added that the experts attending the Abu Dhabi conference were focused on safeguarding the Muslim world's musical heritage. "The idea is to bring people together from all over the world to talk about why this research is important," he said. "We want to identify the traditions that are becoming lost in our rapidly globalising world and pinpoint specific examples of what needs safeguarding. We will then revitalise these traditions in a new context."

Last week, Mohammed Khalaf al Mazrouei, director general of Adach, broke the news of the centre, saying it was part of the authority's long-term plans. He said the authority was trying to help reach a better level of understanding of Muslim, Arab and UAE culture both locally and globally. aseaman@thenational.ae