New centre to help youth keep Emirati culture alive

Dubai Heritage Development Centre aims to preserve Emirati values and culture amid modern ideas and practices

Opening of the first Heritage Development Center at Zayed University on 30 SEP 2018 GN Photo Atiq Ur Rehman

Dubai: Emirati culture will fade with each passing generation unless Emirati youth fully learn and appreciate their traditions, officials said during the launch of a new ‘Dubai Heritage Development Centre’ on Sunday.

Youth today must grasp Emirati culture so they can pass on the legacy to the coming generation, said Saeed Al Nabouda, acting director-general of Dubai Culture. His comments came during the launch of the new centre at Zayed University in Dubai, which is hosting the centre in collaboration with Dubai Culture.

Dr Reyadh Al Mehaideb, vice-president of Zayed University, said the new centre will motivate students to adopt Emirati values and culture amid modern ideas and practices. Resources on Emirati heritage will be made available at the centre, which besides hosting guest speakers and craftsmen, will also serve as a platform for students to showcase their works on Emirati culture.

Al Nabouda said: “If the youth today don’t receive all of the culture, they will pass on only half of our culture to their kids. The older generation is like the ‘main server’ – they can pass on all of the culture. It will come with the stories and the experience, so you will have the real, full culture passed on.”

Emirati culture, he added, is not uniform and varies from the coastal areas to the mountain regions. Also, there are variations between cities and desert areas.

“Sometimes the new generation starts mixing all of these variations. They don’t know the differences, so they bring everything together.”

Sunday’s event marked the first time such a centre has been established at a higher education facility in the UAE – five such centres have been established in public schools before. The first one was launched through an initiative between Dubai Culture and Dubai Education Zone in 2011.

Dr Al Mehaideb said the centre comes in line with the university’s efforts to strengthen the students’ association with the values of the UAE society established by earlier generations. The centre can also help create career opportunities for university graduates in line with the latest developments in the labour market and in Dubai’s cultural, arts, and heritage sectors.

Dr Al Mehaideb said Zayed University and other higher education intuitions offer a course on Emirati society and culture to familiarise youth with their heritage. Additionally, student clubs focused on Emirati culture can now interact with the new centre to enhance their knowledge and talents.

Al Nabouda said there was a need for “cultural management” with new cultural events and establishments coming up in Dubai. “We need people who manage these cultural institutions to have a solid background in culture and heritage. And this is the edge that these [university] students will have” he added.

Emirati graduates and students will be welcoming people from all over the world for the Expo 2020 in Dubai, Al Nabouda said, and the youth should have a firm understanding of their culture to present to the visitors.

Hundreds of volunteers from Zayed University will be participating in Expo 2020, Dr Al Mehaideb said.

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