Abu Dabi, June 13 (BNA): The coronavirus crisis has not stopped the UAE from continuing its efforts to communicate with other cultures, which is highlighted by the meetings and talks held by Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, with her counterparts from many countries, to enhance their cultural and innovation partnerships.
The UAE’s cultural sector has presented an innovative model of overcoming the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, by benefitting from the advancement of the telecommunications sector and digital services and utilising virtual reality to maintain cultural momentum.
The pandemic, which has affected the entire world, will change many sectors and activities, including the cultural sector, in light of the opportunities created by smart and digital solutions, to create a paradigm shift in the cultural scene, UAE national news agency WAM reports.
In the UAE, the cultural scene has quickly and flexibly responded to the challenges posed by the current crisis. Many relevant authorities have exerted significant efforts to support digital cultural content and facilitated access for various segments of the public, through digital libraries and theatres and virtual museum tours, as well as by holding remote workshops and cultural discussion sessions.
The UAE announced the launch of many initiatives to support innovators in culture and innovation industries facing the challenges imposed by COVID-19. The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development launched a national programme that aims to provide financial grants to independent individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises, SME, in the field of cultural innovation.
The programme is being implemented under the supervision of the ministry and in cooperation with cultural partners from local governments, innovation foundations and the National Fund for Corporate Social Responsibility, which will receive contributions on a smart platform and will award them to eligible participants.
Since the start of 2020, the UAE’s cultural scene has witnessed numerous activities and events that were held remotely, most notably "National Reading Month," which is celebrated by the country in March. This year, several initiatives were launched to offer significant knowledge e-content and make books available around the clock to the public.
During this year’s National Reading Month, the UAE Federation Library of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, ECSSR, launched a range of services that made data available remotely to researchers and anyone interested through the e-portal of the library, which contains over five million digital resources. The Sharjah Library of the Sharjah Book Authority announced that its e-library is free for the public for three months.
In April, Sharjah passed on the title of the "World Book Capital" to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, during an event held online through video conferencing and through which over 1,000 online events were organised celebrating prominent local, Arab and international literary icons.
Additionally, the beaches of the emirate hosted libraries visited by tourists and local community members, and "Bait Al-Hikmah," a modern library project, was established as a permanent platform for cultural exchange.
With the postponement of the "Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2020" to 2021, the Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi held an exclusive live broadcast about the summit on its YouTube channel, in cooperation with international cultural organisations.
The live broadcast included a discussion session, entitled, "The Role of Culture in Uniting the World in Times of Crises," and a special presentation by Desmond Child, the American writer, song producer and winner of the Grammy Award, who was also nominated for an Emmy Award, in addition to two musical shows organised by Berklee Abu Dhabi.
The announcement of the winners of the "International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2020" was one of the key virtual cultural events witnessed by the UAE. The award held a virtual honouring event on 16th April, 2020, and cooperated with the "Al Multaqa Literary Salon" to hold a series of virtual seminars hosting the award’s winners.
The Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi held a series of virtual events as part of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi launched new public digital initiatives offering virtual tours, videos and audio clips, in addition to a range of activities that can be downloaded.
The "Literary Salon" of the Cultural and Scientific Association Dubai organised virtual sessions to discuss various books, including the short story, "The Overcoat," by Russian writer Nikolai Gogol.
The Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation held several virtual concerts during the Holy Month of Ramadan, and NYU Abu Dhabi held virtual tours of its art gallery.
On 5th June 2020, Ali Abdullah Al Ahmed, UAE Ambassador to France, presented his credentials as the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, strengthening the country’s influence on international cultural organisations.
This step follows the country’s membership to UNESCO’s Executive Council in November 2019, which reflects the international community’s confidence and appreciation of its cultural, academic and scientific efforts.
In April, UNESCO began the restoration of the "Our Lady of the Hour Church" in Mosul, funded by the UAE.