Abu Dhabi moves to protect culture from expat influence

Five-year plan calls for creation of museums and practice of customs and traditions.
By Amy Glass
Sun 01 Jun 2008 10:49 AM

Abu Dhabi has outlined a strategy aimed at protecting the emirate's culture and heritage in the face of an ever-increasing expatriate population, which now makes up around 85% of the 5.6 million people living in the UAE.

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) on Saturday unveiled its five-year strategy for the emirate, the latest department to publish its forward plan mandated by the government in April.

The strategy, carried by state news agency Wam, calls for the establishment of museums and the integration of local culture and heritage into residents daily lives through encouraging the practice of customs and traditions.

Mohammed Khalaf Al-Mazroui, ADACH director-general, said the strategy included the promotion of “archaeological sites, historic buildings, and the cultural landscape”.

Al-Mazroui said the authority aimed to promote a better understanding of the culture and heritage of Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the Arab world.

The plan would also promote the arts and encourage creativity in literature, art, film and theatre among UAE nationals, he said.

“We will promote Abu Dhabi’s role as a leader in the regional cultural arena by sponsoring, spearheading and influencing positively cultural development and heritage conservation and enhancement,” he said in a statement.

The strategy come at a time when the preservation of local culture in the UAE and across the Gulf is becoming an increasingly hot issue due to fears traditional values are being eroded by the large number of expatriates now living in the region.

Bahrain's labour minister last year even proposed capping how long expatriates can live in the Gulf due to the perceived impact their presence is having on local culture.

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