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Architectural Projects Promoting Abu Dhabi's Heritage
Interpretive centres offer opportunities to experi - miss_rogue, flickr
Several architectural projects in Abu Dhabi are being envisaged as a medium to appreciate the cultural heritage and help preserve the Emirati identity.
In a drive to become a city of the future, Abu Dhabi is laying emphasis on the involvement of heritage and culture in its development. Abu Dhabi is promoting an awareness of its heritage through several architectural projects conceived as interpretive centres which would help cultivate an appreciation of the heritage.
These architectural projects would help the local population to reconnect with their tradition and also serve to inform tourists interested in learning more about the region.
Abu Dhabi's Focus on Heritage and Culture
The recent past has seen Abu Dhabi emerge from the trail of its neighbour Dubai and keenly position itself as cultural capital of the world. However the emirate faces a challenge common to various countries of the gulf which have witnessed an erosion of traditional attributes as a consequence of rapid development.
There is a general concern that the younger generation is disconnected with their heritage and culture. With the large influx of expatriates, the local population finds itself in the minority and is seeking actively to uphold its identity. An awareness of the heritage is fundamental to this goal.
The Intangible Heritage of the United Arab Emirates
The primacy of survival in harsh desert conditions has denied traditional Emirati culture from being abundant in built heritage. The cultural wealth of the people can be accessed in their intangible heritage.
The vast knowledge of the desert, folklore, traditional handicrafts, sport, performing arts and customs are samples of this intangible heritage. The intangible nature of the Emirati heritage makes it more susceptible to being lost due to societal changes and economic reform.
Architectural Projects Advocating Abu Dhabi's Heritage
Several architectural projects are now working towards fostering appreciation of Emirati heritage and inspiring pride in their culture. These projects not only serve functionally as interpretive resources, but also carry symbolic value. The tangible and highly visible character of these projects enables them to act as sponsors of heritage. Since these projects interest the foreign visitors in addition to the local population, they further enrich the tourist landscape of Abu Dhabi.
Notable architectural projects themed on various attributes of Abu Dhabi's heritage include:
Abu Dhabi Heritage Village
As a faithful model of a traditional Bedouin settlement, the Heritage Village contains vernacular mud-brick houses, a traditional mosque and the local market known as the souq. Living exhibits allow the visitor to experience the lifestyle of the Bedouin and other local cultures such as traders, fishermen and oasis dwellers.
Sheikh Zayed National Museum
Conceived as a memorial to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE's founding president and a towering national figure, the museum will feature his life and legacy. Integrated with sustainable building design concepts, the museum is expected to reduce climate control costs, in line with Sheikh Zayed's commitment to the environment. Norman Foster's architecture for the Museum is also evocative of Sheikh Zayed's love of falconry, a cherished traditional sport.
Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre
Recognizing the influence of the natural context in shaping the culture of the people, the proposed centre aims to increase awareness of local biological and cultural aspects of the desert. An appreciation of the traditional desert knowledge and related environmental adaptation will be provided through varied exhibits and experiences.
Qasr Al Hosn Fort Redevelopment
The Qasr Al Hosn Fort, an important historic monument of Abu Dhabi is currently undergoing conservation efforts which will transform it into a cultural hub for Abu Dhabi by creating a museum and a place for holding events pertinent to Emirati culture.
Inclusion of Heritage to Enhance Abu Dhabi's Development
As Abu Dhabi arrives at a turning point in its path to development, it has acknowledged the need to be mindful of its culture and heritage. In a rapidly changing environment, the emirate is keen to preserve and reinforce its identity by nurturing an appreciation of its heritage.
Architectural projects, inspired by Abu Dhabi's heritage hold great potential by serving as an information resource, offering opportunities to access the heritage and visually as brands conveying a message. The accent on heritage and culture in Abu Dhabi's prospective development are bound to make it an attractive place to live in rather than being a rewarding place of employment alone.