UAE Embassy in Washington, Smithsonian Institute sign MoU, expand cultural partnership

Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the US, and Dr. David J. Skorton, Smithsonian Secretary, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, to enhance cultural exchange and create new opportunities for collaboration between the Smithsonian Institute and UAE-based cultural and research organisations.

The MoU identifies multiple areas for future collaboration, including the development of knowledge-building programmes, such as distance mentoring, training workshops, internships and fellowships that will support capacity-building efforts across the UAE’s cultural sector.

UAE museum directors, curators, archivists and researchers will also work with counterparts at The Smithsonian to identify opportunities to co-host events, conduct joint research and scientific programmes, develop curatorial or exhibition partnerships, or publish academic articles. The memorandum also identifies opportunities to assist with the development of new STEM education programmes in the UAE using Smithsonian curriculum and resources.

“The UAE’s museum and cultural sector is growing at a rapid pace, and new efforts are also underway to preserve the country’s heritage and discover new knowledge. As these sectors develop, it is critical for UAE organisations to work with best-in-class partners that can share insights and best practices,” said Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba. “No other organisation has the experience or breadth of expertise that the Smithsonian has, and we are thrilled to help launch this new initiative.”

The UAE and The Smithsonian have a history of collaboration on research, conservation and arts programmes. In 2016, researchers from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute worked with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi to reintroduce a herd of scimitar-horned oryx into the wild. The species had been extinct in the wild since the mid-1980s. Smithsonian conservationists, researchers and curators have also exchanged information on best practices, training and museum development with UAE-based cultural organisations. This includes recent briefings with leadership from the UAE’s Zayed National Museum, which will be built on Saadiyat Island.

“This MoU creates new opportunities for the Smithsonian and the UAE Embassy to partner on a variety of initiatives, events and other programmes,” said Secretary Skorton. “Through our current collaborations and those we will create in the future we will build greater connections between our societies.”

The MoU comes on the heels of a visit to the UAE by a delegation that included senior Smithsonian officials, curators, and educators. The objective of the visit was to identify new projects, research and events that could highlight cultural innovation and artists from the UAE and promote cultural exchange between the two nations.

With the opening of world-class museums, such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, galleries, historical areas, performance centres and other cultural destinations, the UAE has become a centre for the arts in the Middle East. Each year, hundreds of thousands of art lovers and collectors from around the world visit the UAE for Art Dubai, Dubai Design Week, Abu Dhabi Art or the Sharjah Biennial.

“Art connects people across borders and cultures. This MoU allows the UAE Embassy to tap into the full potential of collaboration with the Smithsonian,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba. “Through this agreement, we will be able to trade best-in-class ideas and provide new opportunities to showcase rising stars from the UAE in the United States.”

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs