ABU DHABI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed welcomed Prince Charles and Camilla in Al Ain to celebrate a year-long collaboration between the UAE and the UK in the arts.
The UK-UAE Year of Cultural Collaboration was launched at Al Jahili Fort under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and the Prince of Wales.
The evening of traditional arts and live performances signalled a strengthening bond between the two countries. The British Council will work with Emirati partners on the programme for art, literature, science, sport and trade.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, inaugurated the event, describing the history of Al Jahili Fort and its British connections.
“This impressive Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain itself testifies to a vibrant tradition of collaboration between the venerable UK and the Emirates that united into an independent nation just 45 years ago,” said Sheikh Nahyan.
The fort was built in the 1890s as a summer retreat for Sheikh Zayed the First. In the 1950s, it became a base for the Trucial Oman Scouts, a paramilitary force led by British officers.
“The Trucial Scouts earned the respect of the population as they settled disputes and protected borders,” he said. “The British-led scouts were the base upon which the UAE built its own Armed Forces.”
Sheikh Nahyan went on to say that the UAE “overflows” with evidence of creative collaboration with the UK, with an “invaluable” population of UK residents contributing to the country’s knowledge and industry.
“It is said that friends share all things. As friends, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates have shared many things, much to our mutual advantage.
“Most prominent in my mind are the values that we have shared – a devotion to our own cultures and a deep respect for and appreciation of other cultures, ethnicities, languages, religions and beliefs.
“We have shared the desire for global peace and the safety, prosperity and well-being of our communities. We have shared the joys of civilisation.”
Sheikh Nahyan said that the visit of Prince Charles and Camilla, who are in the UAE on a three-nation regional tour, showed that cooperation is essential to shape a peaceful, prosperous future.
Guests at the launch heard live classical performances by Emirati and British musicians. Violinist Anna Smith and cellist Michael Atkinson, from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, performed works of Mozart.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall also attended an art exhibition at the heritage centre in Al Ain, which included traditional calligraphy works.
Music will form a large part of next year’s cultural celebrations. The BBC Proms and Symphony Orchestra is due in March to play six concerts at the Dubai Royal Opera House, while performances by the Welsh National Opera are also planned.
A digital version of a Quran manuscript believed to be among the oldest in the world will be the centrepiece of UK-UAE 2017, and was inaugurated by Prince Charles on Monday.
The heir to the British throne also visited Bu Tinah Shoal, located about 130 kilometres west of Abu Dhabi city. The area is part of the 4,000 kilometre Marawah Marine Protected Area and Biosphere Reserve.
Prince Charles met Razan Al Mubarak, secretary general of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, before touring the area with Dr Sheikha Al Dhaheri, Ead’s executive director of marine and terrestrial diversity.
He saw varieties of birds including endangered species during a boat trip as well as turtles.
(via The National)