The United Arab Emirates this week launched a new exhibition focused on its traditional cultural heritage at the Palais des Nations, the home of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Switzerland.
Entitled Traditional Arts and Crafts of the United Arab Emirates, and running in parallel to the UAE’s participation in the 43rd session of the Universal Periodic Review, the exhibition showcased the UAE’s traditional arts and crafts using photos, videos, food and books and focused on how these arts and crafts empower women, people of determination, and children.
The exhibition, which ran at the Palais des Nations’ Exhibition Gallery from May 8 to 10 and was open to the public, was presented under the patronage of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and the Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation and Mother of the Nation.
The official launch event for the exhibition was attended by Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development; Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al-Jarman, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations, and other international organisations in Geneva; Rym Al Falasy, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Motherhood & Childhood; and Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, along with other officials.
In a speech at the official launch, Al Mazrui, said: “I would like to thank Tatiana Valovaya, and particularly her Cultural Diplomacy and Outreach Department for their generosity, passion, tireless efforts, and devotion to ensure the success of this event.
“As we are preparing to host the world in the UAE in November for COP28, with this exhibition we are celebrating our ancestors, their connection with nature, their wisdom in relation to sustainability, and their exceptional instinctive anticipation of the future. This exhibition is about celebrating our human connections, no matter who we are, or where we’re from – appreciating differences, but admiring the similarities, despite the differences of space and time.
As we all share the same path, and ask the same questions, this exhibition not only celebrates arts and the crafts, but more importantly the stories behind their creation, and the heroic artists and artisans who kept these traditions alive, sometimes through adversity and difficult times. The exhibition celebrates Emirati women and their precious contributions to the UAE’s national story, and also the nation’s children, who will continue to carry our precious heritage into the future.
“Moreover, this exhibition would not be possible without the vision, imagination and support of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation, so I would also like to thank Her Highness on behalf of all the women and children in the UAE.”
For her part, Valovaya said: “I would firstly like to thank Ambassador Al-Jarman for organizing this festive and colorful exhibition and for continuously enriching our cultural activities program.
I also congratulate the UAE for its commitment to preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of its country. We all know how unique the heritage of the UAE is, but with this exhibition we can not only see the examples of their fantastic, intricate craftmanship, and not only taste some of the beautiful delicacies of the country, but we also get to see how these crafts and work in preserving heritage can work for gender parity, for women’s empowerment, for inclusion for people with disabilities and for children and young people and how they can contribute to their own societies.
“We also see how we can use these traditions and heritage to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. It is very important that we not only see the beauty of the UAE’s heritage, but we also see the beauty of the modern-day UAE. The exhibition shows how in the UAE, arts and crafts can contribute to giving people a decent life, how they can help to include everybody in the work of society, how they allow people to make very powerful social, political and economic statements with their art and how working together we can unite our beautiful traditional past with our modern aims,” HE Valovaya concluded.
Rym Al Falasy said: “With great pleasure, I convey to you the greetings from Her Highness and her wishes for success in all your efforts to highlight the true image of the United Arab Emirates and to shed light on our authentic Emirati heritage.”
Al Falasy, expressed her appreciation for HE Valovaya, for her presence, encouragement and support for the UAE’s efforts.
As part of the event, the Supreme Council for Motherhood & Childhood screened a short film entitled ‘Children of the Emirates’, dedicated to the achievements of Emirati children. In addition, the Council invited 14-year-old Emirati chef Aysha Al Obeidli to participate in the event, where she created a unique ‘UAE-flavored popcorn’, Loumi iced tea (dried lemon ice tea) and Karak, for the film screening. In addition, members of The Emirati Children’s Parliament, Salama Al Teneiji and Abdulla Al Ali, joined the youngest UNICEF COP28 ambassador, Ghaya Al Ahbabi, and the President of the Children’s advisory council, Shahad Al Subousi, in shedding light on the UAE’s accomplishments in supporting children’s rights.