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International Interest Continues To Grow In Sharjah’s Museums

French and British delegations toured a number of museums across the emirate of Sharjah last week, where delegation members were met by representatives of the Sharjah Museums Department (SMD), including senior officials headed by Maissa Al Suwaidi, Head of Museum Operations at SMD, on behalf of the Director General, Ms Manal Ataya.

The visit was arranged upon request from the British Council, and the delegation was composed of high-profile officials from the Council, including Graham Sheffield, Director of Arts, and Steve Stining, Director of Arts: MENA. During their visit, the department’s strategic vision and the long standing position of the Sharjah emirate as the regional capital of culture and art was discussed. The objective of the visit to present current achievements and discuss future cooperation with the British Council and the Sharjah Museums Department. Sharjah Museums Department thanked the British Council for its support and successful joint activities it has conducted over the past few years.

Al Suwaidi received the visitors at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, where they toured the museum and its galleries to see the collections, which amount to some 5,000 objects from all over the Islamic world. These artefacts provide a fascinating insight into the development of Islamic art and civilization, and showcase the most important achievements in science and art from the early Islamic period to about 1,400 years into modern times. In addition to the tour, the delegates were also introduced the museum’s educational programmes.

The delegation also visited the Sharjah Arts Museum, where they toured the temporary exhibitions including the solo exhibtions of Dr Najat Maki’s "Colorful Rhythms",and the Venezuelan exhibition "Independence after 200 years", and "Voyage to Persia", which showcase works from the unique collection of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. They were introduced to the educational and familiarisation workshops and programmes organised at the museum for each of the exhibitions with the aim of enhancing artistic culture among all social groups. The workshops target all age groups, from school and university students to teachers, artists and intellectuals.

The Sharjah Art Foundation was the delegation’s last stop in the emirate. There, they were received by the management team, and introduced to the cultural vision the emirate of Sharjah seeks to achieve through the Foundation and in coordination with government departments and relevant authorities. The government departments work together to innovate, develop and continue to reach global audiences through a multitude of tailored programs and activities.

The delegates stressed the importance of the visit, which significantly contributed to enhancing their knowledge about the cultural and artistic activities in Sharjah, and the ways of reaching the desired goals of establishing a vibrant cultural environment in all seven emirates.

Ms Ataya commended the visit, saying: "It is very important to have high-profile experts such as Mr Graham Sheffield and Mr Steve Stining visit our museums, view in depth our activities and show commitment to working with us for the long term. The exchange of experiences with UK cultural bodies will help SMD to further develop its performance and activities to world-class levels".

On the same day, and in coordination with the Abu Dhabi-based Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), the Sharjah Museums Department hosted a delegation of eight directors and experts from Agence France Museums. They were escorted in a tour to Sharjah Archaeology Museum, where they learnt about the history of archeological exploration in the emirate and the most important sites discovered; the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, where they learnt about the artefacts and activities of the museum; the Sharjah Art Museum, where they viewed the existing temporary and permanent exhibitions; and the Sharjah Calligraphy Museum, where they learnt about the annual activities and the work mechanism, in addition to the awards and initiatives adopted by the SMD and the museum to maintain Arabic calligraphy.

Al Suwaidi delivered a detailed presentation about the applicable administrative procedures in SMD, the divisions and department operating under the umbrella of the SMD, and the efforts to develop long-term strategic plans that aim to raise awareness on the importance of museums. Members of the delegation admired the contents and activities of the museums, expressing their interest in enhancing cooperation with the department.

Ms Ataya, SMD Director General, commented on the visits: " The interest shown by Agence France Museums, which was established for the exchange of scientific, cultural and technical experiences with French museums, denotes the cultural value of Sharjah museums and the importance of their offering to public. We are pleased with such opportunity of exchanging experience and presenting our methods and policies to high level experts.

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