Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, joined distinguished experts from the fields of art and culture to discuss how culture plays a crucial role in defining the past and the future of Arab cities.

Held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on December 5th, the panel discussion organised by the Thinkers & Doers Institute invited three experts from the Arab world to the French capital under the theme ‘Culture and diversity: at the heart of a new citizenship in cities’ as part of the ‘Thinkers & Doers’ annual program of innovative discussions and events.

The event placed particular focus on three major Arab cities with a long history of cultural and economic importance; Sharjah in the UAE, Essaouira in Morocco, and Manama in Bahrain.

Ms Ataya, who has over a decade’s experience in museum development and cultural diplomacy and oversees Sharjah Museum Authority’s portfolio of 16 museums, represented Sharjah at the Centre Pompidou, a world-famous art and culture complex.

She was joined by H.E. Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, who shared her knowledge of heritage-related initiatives in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, and H.E. André Azoulay, Adviser to H.M. King Mohammed VI & President and Founder of Association Essaouira-Mogador, who discussed the city of Essaouira and its remarkable history as a port city in the past and its revitalization in the present day.

Catherine Guillou, Director of Visitors at Centre Pompidou and a highly respected cultural expert, also offered her own specialist insight on engaging with communities throughout France, as the panel debated the question ‘how can culture contribute to the building of a new citizenship?’

Amandine Lepoutre, Thinkers & Doers Co-President and Founder, helped to chair the event which addressed topics including: How does culture impact a city’s development? Can culture contribute to social dynamism? What can culture bring to a city’s influence? 

An invited audience of leading figures from the art world as well as academics, museum officials and practitioners also contributed to the debate.

Renowned for its commitment to promoting art and culture to all members of society through its museums, community activities, the Sharjah Biennial and annual programmes of exhibitions and international art and heritage festivals, Sharjah has established itself as the cultural heart of the UAE and a leading destination on the regional and global art and cultural heritage scene.

“It was an honour to participate at this event and represent Sharjah in discussions alongside my fellow panelists who are renowned and respected professionals working in the fields of culture in the Arab world today,” said Ms Ataya.

“Culture and values are the foundations on which a society, its people and its cities are formed and flourish. As per the directives of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi; Sharjah continues its commitment to the fostering of cultural institutions, increasing literacy and preserving the Arabic language, and protecting tangible and intangible heritage. Sharjah remains at the forefront of promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue.”

“Each of the three cities featured have forged their own unique and strong identity, with each fully embracing their important history. We all agreed that our work in the cultural field is critical to ensure future generations have knowledge of their heritage and pride in their past, but also have respect for diverse cultures in a time of rapid globalization.”


Source: Seven Media

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