Seek original sources to understand UAE fabric better, says academician

 

Seek original sources to understand UAE fabric better, says academician
Dr. Frauke Heard-Bey

Dubai - Letters between rulers are mostly inaccessible and some families do have material of economic transactions or title deeds to land which can be used for reference, according to Heard-Bey.

by

Angel Tesorero

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Published: Tue 7 Mar 2017, 7:16 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Mar 2017, 9:23 PM

A leading academician on UAE history challenged Emirati students who attended the inaugural UAE Heritage Research Conference at Zayed University in Dubai on Monday to look for "original sources that predate 1971 to understand the fabric of UAE society better".

In her keynote speech at the event organised by the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre which discussed the academic efforts and scientific research on UAE heritage, Dr. Frauke Heard-Bey, author of the book, "From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates: A Society in Transition", said: "compared to other regions, there is very little material which was written in the country. The UAE have very little original sources that predate 1971."

Letters between rulers are mostly inaccessible and some families do have material of economic transactions or title deeds to land which can be used for reference, according to Heard-Bey.

She added: "There is a need to rely on outside sources to fill in the gaps in the the earlier history of the UAE."

A good source, she said, is the India Office in London as well as foreign archives in Portugal, Netherlands, France, Germany, and Vatican.

"After 1971, there are numerous sources such as newspapers, photos, films, exhibitions, museums, private collections (like stamps). Modern written source can be anything any material in print or written by hand: Letters, newspapers, books, memoirs, diaries, administrative notes, books, articles, and theses," she added.

The objective is to gather data and information "with the intention of making them accessible to researchers, students and the general public. And all these will become building blocks for other people's research," she underlined.
 
Dr. Heard-Bey, who first arrived in Abu Dhabi in 1967 and in 1969 joined the Centre for Documentation and Research, which later became the National Archive, also reminded the Emirati students to be very discerning in their research as "there is no 'definitive' history."
 
"What an author or a teacher writes or says is by necessity coloured through the general situation of the writer. Therefore, researchers should check what were the sources used; the background of an author; and the attitude, ideology, background, and purpose of the research," she pointed out.
 
She added that oral tradition carried down through generations is also an authentic source for research.
 
"People remember good or interesting stories. Children in the UAE first understand from stories, that things happened to 'grown-ups', which appear to belong to an unfamiliar world. Thus, stories are the first step to recording history both orally or written," Dr. Heard-Bey explained.
 
"In the UAE, there have been and there are now many different institutions and organisations, which collect oral history such as the National Archive, the heritage centres, various universities, and the Centre for Oral History run by Prof. Hassan Naboodah since 1990s at UAE University," she added.
 
Meanwhile, winners of the Undergraduate Student Research on UAE Heritage Competition, the annual competition sponsored by HHC were also thonoured. The three winners were Alia Ibrahim Juma Alhaj Ibrahim Al Madani for her paper on 'Unbreakable Ties With A Vibrant Art: The Ayyalah of UAE'; Banout Khalfan Al Ketbi (Emirati Literature: A mirror that reflects the rich cultural heritage of the UAE); and Abdulrahman Ali Sultan Bin Khalfoon Al'ali (Traditional Wooden Boats Building in United Arab Emirates: Dhow as an example).
 
angel@khaleejtimes.com



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