ABU DHABI // Cultural development is an integral part of progress in any society, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, told a conference in the capital.
Sheikh Nahyan said on Sunday that culture was a pre-requisite for achieving successful and sustainable economic growth.
“We strive to preserve our heritage, values and principles as well as all aspects of culture in the UAE and we seek to establish a dialogue with other civilisations in order for us to continue to move forward,” the minister said at the launch of the ninth Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development by the Arab Thought Foundation.
“I am optimistic that this report will be an important step to document the cultural movement in the region. It is also an important step to reach an understanding and recognise the importance of cultural development, for through cultural development, we can achieve comprehensive development in society.”
The report, titled Culture and Cultural Integration in the GCC: Policies, Institutions and Manifestations, is the result of research and studies by Gulf experts and academics.
Sheikh Nahyan said it clearly demonstrated the eagerness within Gulf states to develop cultural and intellectual creativity.
“We, in the Gulf, have all the capabilities and requirements to achieve comprehensive cultural development,” he said. “Realising the importance of culture requires thought and reflection into the importance of promoting wisdom and the ability to continue on the path of excellence and innovation.
“The report, which seeks to explore the prospects for a bright and welcoming future, is an important step to highlight that successful cultural development in the Gulf requires concerted efforts between all relevant sectors.”
The report’s first chapter includes GCC cultural policies and strategies. The second tackles Gulf cultural institutions and the third covers GCC cultural creativity.
“It is a pioneering step that clarifies the importance of cultural openness in the world in this age of globalisation and technical development and in light of current circumstances,” Sheikh Nahyan said.
“Regional countries must collaborate. The mutual relationship between education and culture is very strong, for the success of education is closely linked to the level of education and cultural development that is acquired through continuous learning.”
Nations cannot grow and develop without culture, said Prince Khaled Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia, the governor of Mecca and the foundation’s chairman.
“This report presents two important models for integration in the Arab world and these can be a source of pride for any Arab. Integration continues to renew itself in the Gulf and it should be replicated in the rest of the Arab world.”
Experts said most studies tended to focus on oil resources and the Gulf’s economic situation as well as security and stability but rarely sought to highlight its cultural movements.
“The report reviews cultural development and strategy in the GCC and looks to explore the adopted policies in each of the six countries and future trends,” said Dr Henri Awit, the foundation’s director general.
“It sheds light on regulations, legislation and joint activities and also focuses on achievements and challenges while highlighting the role of culture in enhancing integration between Gulf countries.”
The role of cultural institutions in preserving local Gulf heritage is also underlined as well as the region’s creativity.
“Cinema, poetry, novels, theatre and visual arts, showcase aspects of the Gulf cultural renaissance,” he said. “One of the best aspects of this report is that it has succeeded in highlighting the specificities of every GCC country.”
The event took place ahead of the Fikr15 conference, the second forum themed under Arab Integration, which kicks off in Abu Dhabi tomorrow. Both contribute to the foundation’s goals of bringing unity to the Arab world through cultural and intellectual initiatives and programmes.