TV programme turns into encyclopaedia of UAE culture, heritage

ABU DHABI - It all started as a TV programme last year. Then, Al Shara (The Banner), the 33 evenings of Emirati traditions competition presented on Abu Dhabi TV last Ramadan, was transformed into the first volume of an Encyclopaedia of the UAE culture and heritage.


Silvia Radan

Published: Sat 18 Jun 2011, 11:33 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:35 AM

Compiled by Saeed Mohammed bin Karraz Al Muhairi, head of Research in the Intangible Heritage Department of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), and published by the authority, Al Shara is a heavily illustrated book about the Emirates’ past rulers, the sea, desert and farming traditions, old customs and lifestyle, wildlife and culture.

“It is the first book that mentions the castles and forts in the country,” pointed out Al Muhairi.

Touching upon 2218 questions and topics raised by the TV show, the 191 page book is intended to all segments of society, young and old, Emirati and expatriates. For the time being, it is only available in Arabic language, but the author revealed that an English translation is coming up and perhaps even it will be followed by French and other international languages.

The book is divided into seven chapters, starting with leaders, personalities, festivals and performing arts. It then moves to wildlife with an emphasis on camels and falconry. The third chapter touches on marine life, the fourth deals with agriculture, particularly palm trees and their shaping of village traditions, the fifth is devoted to folklore, especially poetry, and the sixth describes the names and locations of important places and sites, such as oasis and palaces. The last chapter includes all the general questions that were asked during the TV programme but were not answered in the previous chapters.

“In order to give our great traditional treasure its worth, we have selected elements that represent the desert in its largeness and charm, the oasis in their beauty, the sea in its blueness and richness of pearls — and then present them all in the aesthetic templates that give comfort and joy to one’s soul,” said Al Muhairi. The author is already working now on the second volume of the encyclopaedia, which will concentrate on various linguistic aspects and the dialects of the Emirates.

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