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Rethinking the Future of Islamic Arts and Heritage

​18 NOVEMBER 2021

In line with the International Day of Islamic Arts, proclaimed by UNESCO on November 18, 2019, with the aim to raise awareness of Islamic arts and their contribution to civilization, the University of Sharjah held an international forum entitled: "Rethinking the Future of Islamic Arts and Heritage", organized by the Sharjah International Foundation for the History of Muslim and Arab Sciences at the University of Sharjah, as part of the activities of its annual international scientific forum, and the Regional Office for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in the Arab States (ICCROM-Sharjah), within the framework of its periodic program of the "Arab Forum for Cultural Heritage".


The forum aims to provide a venue for multi-disciplinary discussions on Islamic artistic and architectural legacies in the present and future. The forum brings together prominent speakers, consisting of academics and practitioners, to explore the role of Islamic artistic legacy in bridging times and geographies, converging cultures, and promoting inter-cultural dialogue. Participants in the forum present various case studies from various Islamic contexts, highlighting how Islamic arts evolved to define various cultures and how these cultural legacies define the present and future.

Theoretical and practical perspectives have been included to explore the diverse nature of Islamic arts and heritage with highlights on inter-disciplinary boundaries. In addition, the forum explores various case studies on the preservation and presentation of Islamic heritage; and explores the bridging, dialogue-promoting, and unifying role of Islamic arts and heritage in inter-ethnic and inter-religious contexts; and investigates the presentation of Islamic arts in exhibitions and museums and the role of museums in building communal awareness in Islamic artistic legacies.

His Excellency Prof. Hamid Majul Al Naimiy, Director of the University of Sharjah, delivered a speech at the opening session of the forum, in which he expressed his very  appreciation and gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah and President of the University of Sharjah (may God protect him), for his unlimited support for all fields of Arab cultural heritage, especially within the framework of cooperation and partnership for embodying this heritage and highlighting its importance at the local, regional and international levels.

Prof. Al Naimiy also expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Sharjah International Foundation for the History of Muslim and Arab Sciences and the Regional Office for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in the Arab States (ICCROM-Sharjah) for organizing this forum, which achieves the mission of the Foundation in reviving the scientific heritage of Arabs and Muslims through the processes of collection, preservation, investigation, research, publication and translation.

"The importance of this forum is reflected in the cultural and strategic vision of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah. The forum is also a platform for dialogue, discussion, communication and interaction between cultures. Discussions and research surveys are of great importance because they contribute to protecting and preserving the essence of Islamic artistic and architectural heritage, and preserving it for future generations and for the humanity as a whole", said Prof. Al Naimiy.


Dr Webber Ndoro, Director General of ICCROM, delivered also an opening speech, in which he said: "this year the forum celebrates the International Day of Islamic Art, proclaimed by the UN in 2019, with the aim to provide a venue for multi-disciplinary discussions on Islamic artistic and architectural legacies in the present and future. Prominent speakers will discuss the role of Islamic Arts and Heritage in bridging time and geographies, converging cultures and promoting inter-cultural dialogue. This is in line with our slogan Conserving Culture, Promoting Diversity."

"We have aimed together with the Sharjah Islamic Foundation of the History of Arab and Muslim Sciences to establish a solid foundation for an interdisciplinary dialogue on Islamic Arts and Heritage and publish the forum proceeding to disseminate knowledge on such an important topic for the region and the world", Dr Webber Ndoro added.


For his part, Dr Zaki Aslan, Director of ICCROM-Sharjah says that "at ICCROM-Sharjah with our partners (UOS's SIFHAM and SMA's unique Museum of Islamic Civilization), we aim at this forum to shed light on the essence and embedded meanings of Islamic Art and Heritage, especially by way of their interpretation, presentation and preservation, beyond the aesthetic attributes held therein. These for example include notions of creativity in art objects responding to human needs and adaptable solutions to local and environmental contexts. Such understanding would inform how objects can best be displayed in museums and how lived-in architectural spaces contribute to the enrichment of our quality of life."

HE Dr. Manal Ataya, Director-General of Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA), said: "we are delighted to participate in the Third International Arab Forum which explores the role of Islamic art and heritage in bridging civilizations. Since its opening in 1996, the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation has celebrated the richness of Islamic art and innovation in sciences during various Islamic empires with exhibitions we organise that showcase the beauty of Islamic art and programs that foster inter-faith dialogue."

 

The forum focused on a number of themes, including the role of Islamic artistic legacy in bridging times and geographies, converging cultures, and promoting inter-cultural dialogue. The activities of the first day, which was held at the University of Sharjah, included a number of dialogue sessions. The first session was moderated by Professor Mesut Idriz, Director of the Sharjah International Foundation for the History of Muslim and Arab Sciences, and Head of the Department of Islamic History and Civilization at the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Sharjah. During this session, two presentations were delivered, the 1st by Dr. Ahmad Paul Keeler, entitled: "Islam and Converging Cultures: the Case of Architecture" and the 2nd by Prof. Amir Bašić entitled: "the Strategy for Preserving and Developing Islamic Arts and Heritage.

On the second session, Dr. Antonio Almagro gave a presentation entitled "the Islamic World as a Space for the Dissemination of Forms and Knowledge - Some Examples in the Field of Architecture." Mr. Rashad Bukhash also gave a presentation entitled: "the Future of Culture and Arts in the UAE, while Ms. Aisha Deemas presented a presentation entitled: "Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization: A Platform for Interfaith Dialogue. The activities of the first day's program concluded with a visit to the Islamic Museum in Sharjah and the exhibition of "Drop by Drop, Life Falls from the Sky: Water, Islam and Art."

About ICCROM-Sharjah

ICCROM-Sharjah is a regional conservation centre founded by ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property), and the Government of the Emirate of Sharjah. ICCROM's 27th General Assembly, convened in Rome in November 2011, decided to establish a regional office of ICCROM in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates where it is based since its inception in 2012. ICCROM-Sharjah is a continuation of ICCROM's ATHAR programme, which has dedicated its activities since it was launched in 2004, to the protection of cultural heritage in the Arab region and to broadening access, appreciation and understanding of its rich history.

About Sharjah International Foundation for the History of Muslim and Arab Sciences

His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah, and President of the University of Sharjah, issued Decision No. (2) of 2015 on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 to establish the Sharjah International Foundation for the History of Muslim and Arab Sciences (SIFHAMS) as a leading international scientific foundation to serve Arab and Muslim scientific heritage in its diverse fields. The Foundation aims to revive Arab and Muslim scientific heritage through the processes of compilation, preservation, verification, investigation, publication, and translation and make this information easily accessible to researchers through holding conferences, symposia and workshops. It serves as a platform for dialogue, discussion, communication and interaction between cultures.



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