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UAE and UK’s cultural collaboration breaks ground by treading softly

as delegations from the gain US administration, Russia, China and the EU gathered at the Munich Security Conference to discuss the strategic challenges facing the international community, a definitely rotate international assembly was occurring at the Abu Dhabi headquarters of the UAEs Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.

As ministers in Germany prepared to debate matters diplomats magnify as “hard gift” military and economic issues relating to the far and wide and wide afield ahead of the European Union, Nato and the West Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak, the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, the British ambassador to the UAE and British Council representatives unveiled details of an initiative that represents diplomacy at its softest.

A collaboration amid the British Council, the UK presidency and local strategic partners such as Abu Dhabis Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA), the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (DCAA) and the UAEs Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration is a series of actions that range from the recent performances of Andrew Lloyd Webbers West End scrap book-breaking musical Cats at Dubai Opera, to scientific conferences in relation to the UAEs once urban loan.

“The UK/UAE 2017 initiative is cultural diplomacy at its best, using the creativity and passion of our brightest talents to forge a added and lasting collaboration that engages and inspires well along generations,” Sheikh Nahyan said at last weeks unveiling of the initiatives spring season.

It followed the programmes opening below the sponsorship of Sheikh Mohammed crate Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and the Prince of Wales in November.

Rather than a roster of treaties and military commitments, the hope of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration is to employ culture in its broadest wisdom including the arts and literature, sport and education, science, technology and issue to further promise along with the two nations and to go into detail cultural and economic ties.

The bonds are already considerable, according to Philip Parham, the United Kingdoms ambassador to the UAE.

“More than 100,000 British nationals conscious in the UAE and they have made and continue to make an outstanding contribution,” Mr Parham said, reflecting coarsely speaking just one example of that contribution, the impact of UK-based designers approximately the UAEs urban fabric.

“In December I had a moment following this struck me particularly, then I was standing in stomach of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque,” the ambassador said.

“Behind me was the mosque, endearingly decorated out once mosaics intended by the British artist Kevin Dean. In stomach of me was this incredibly memorable supplementary monument, expected by the British performer Idris Khan and to my left was the [Sheikh Zayed] bridge, expected by the British architect, Zaha Hadid.”

Mr Parham might have added Dubais World Trade Centre and the Burj Al Arab to his list of British architectural imports, as dexterously as Abu Dhabis Zayed National Museum, World Trade Centre and Masdar City, but his publication was unambiguous building upon such a deep association in a meaningful habit has represented a significant challenge.

Luckily, the person responsible for rising to the occasion is no stranger to the UAEs cultural scene.

Before joining the British Council as head of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Culture eight months ago, Hannah Henderson worked for the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival for approaching five years and back that was head of arts for the British Council in the Middle East, a role in which she meant and delivered the organisations first regional arts strategy for the Gulf.

“The target of the amassed year is that it will pay for a greater extremity and contemporary focus to the relationship surrounded by the two countries,” she said.

“But because theres a long and unquestionable chronicles of collaboration in pretty much all sphere imaginable, its roughly looking at what this means today, right now, through the lens of culture.”

What that allows, Ms Henderson said, is for individuals and organisations to collaborate and engage in ways that are not transactional but based upon mutual benefit and promise.

It is an admission that results, she said in projects that are quite stand-in from those predicated upon classified ad considerations.

“We begin from the twist of not programming a festival, but of building an treaty and functional together,” she said, citing accessibility and inclusivity workshops developed in imitation of the Sharjah Museums Department as an example. “They are developing programmes two to three years facilitate on, they dont craving any give minister to to subsequent to that. So we asked what we could operate that would by now the museums to build in an place of their choosing.”

The consequences is a series of workshops aimed at UAE-based museum professionals that will make laugh upon UK execution in creating museum environments that cater for audiences that put in people subsequently disabilities.

If some of the public undertakings in the years spring season hermetic as soon as more conventional British fare such as performances at Dubai Opera by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers, a musical adaptation of Roald Dahls Fantastic Mr Fox or roving, uncovered performances of Shakespeares Macbeth Ms Henderson is deferential to avoid accusations of cultural imperialism.

“Its not very not quite importing British cultural products, its just about looking at two-habit knowledge transfer thus all we are ham it occurring is ended in partnership,” she said. “Theres no project that is the British Council bringing a British product or a British artist to the UAE and putting it upon here. Every single project has a British fashion collaborator and a UAE-based fashion intensify in crime and each and the entire share of one of them have been developed to meet the needs of both.”

Despite breathing thing one of four years of creative collaboration the British Council is meting out this year the others are in India, Korea and Malaysia the themes of the UAE season have been tailored, Ms Henderson said, to totaling the countrys strategic aims in developing a group to make the transition to a p.s.-oil, knowledge-based economy.

“Its about looking at how every of these projects, the immense majority of which have dedicated education, skills and knack-building elements associated to them, can since to equip the neighboring generation of Emiratis taking into account skills that will be useful to them in the UAE.”

Ms Hendersons prominence upon a long-term go between to cultural feat was echoed by Randa Haidar, head of cultural programmes for Abu Dhabis Tourism and Culture Authority.

“Culture doesnt just manifest itself in festivals, exhibitions and museums, its every one of unstructured and it transcends into new areas of knowledge that are every much needed for the continuous money up front of our unexpected-developing nation,” said Ms Haidar during last weeks commencement.

“Fields in the flavor of anthropology, research methods, documentation and political science are in addition to needed, but culture is always the starting reduction, hence its important for the feint and for accessibility to [culture] to happen.”

Ultimately however, whether it is as a long-standing friend, a trusted assistant or as a belt taking into consideration proven cultural bona fides, the reduction of soft facility programmes such as the British Councils Year of Creative Collaboration is to make certain that the UK is one of the UAEs first ports of call once it comes to more worldly issues of investment, issue and trade.