Sharjah Heritage Days returns with 500 events
Celebration of local and global cultures and food will be held from March 20-April 10.
The 18th edition of Sharjah Heritage Days promises to be bigger and better with close to 500 events and activities planned in it three-week run.
Steeped in history, the Heart of Sharjah district and the Khorfakkan Heritage Area, will be the two hubs of the celebration from March 20–April 10, where artists, chefs, intellectuals, artisans, and leading cultural entities from the UAE and 29 other countries will be engaging audiences with dances, traditional foods, arts and crafts and clothing unique to their cultures.
Perhaps the largest and longest celebration of local and global cultures in the UAE and the region, the festival is organised by the Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH), with the Republic of Montenegro being the Guest of Honour this time.
Details of the festival programme were unveiled on Monday at the Cultural Heritage Activities Center, in the presence of Dr Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage and Chairman of the Higher Committee of Sharjah Heritage Days; Major General Saif Al-Zari Al-Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police; Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA); Mohamed Hassan Khalaf, Director General of the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (SBA); Saeed Ali Al Mannai, Director of Activities at the Emirates Heritage Club, and other officials and representatives of local and international media.
Dr Al Musallam said: “Since 2003, Sharjah Heritage Days has furthered the emirate’s cultural vision and the directives of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, which emphasises on the need to foster community awareness and appreciation of local heritage as a means to enhance their capacities to protect it and carry it into our future.”
“This year, SHD is being held under special circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the festival we aim to reinforce Sharjah’s message that preserving our heritage and sharing our identity with others safeguards humankind as a whole and brings people together, revealing our similarities to each other. This is something we need more than ever,” he added.
Major General Al Shamsi said: “The role of the public in taking precautionary measures for their own and others’ safety, will be paramount to the successful running of Sharjah Heritage Days.”
Speaking on behalf of SCTDA, longstanding partners of SIH and sponsors of SHD, Al Midfa said: “The event plays a vital role in boosting Sharjah’s tourism appeal and supporting the national economy. The complementarity of our roles at SCTDA and SIH in ensuring that we offer the very best experiences for families and tourists in Sharjah is reinforced with festivals like these. This collaboration is among the first significant steps being taken to revive the culture and tourism landscape, not just in Sharjah but for the UAE.”
Hassan Khalaf said: “We will take this unique cultural festival to every Emirati and Arab household. SBA has a comprehensive plan to cover the Sharjah Heritage Days on all our TV channels and radio stations.”
Al Mannai said: “Heritage is that special link, which connects our past to our present and future. This unique festival is the product of close collaboration among 22 local government entities dedicated to the preservation of our Emirati identity and passing it on to future generations so they can feel a strong sense of belonging to their nation.”
Apart from Montenegro, other participating nations include Belarus, Macedonia, Tajikistan, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Maldives, Yemen, Egypt, Italy, Spain, France, Sudan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Algeria, Syria, Kenya, Tunisia, Netherlands, Mauritania, Iraq, India and Bashkortostan, a republic of Russia.
Vibrant folk performances from Belarus, Macedonia, Bashkortostan, Tajikistan, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, and Montenegro, will introduce visitors to new cultures, while eight Emirati folkloric arts and dances - Ayyala, Nuban, Andima, Razif and Rawahh, Harbiya, Liwa, Habban, and Daan - will highlight the heritage and rich culture of the UAE.
Folklore Documentation Project
For a period of three weeks, SHD will undertake a project to scientifically document UAE’s audio-visual heritage and provide a historical overview of the specialty and musical instrument artisanship of the diverse art forms, including its pioneers and early adopters. The three types of arts covered under the project include Festive, Performance, and Religious.
Community Theater and Child Village
Nine countries, including Yemen, Palestine, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, India and Pakistan, will demonstrate the artistry of their diverse cultures and heritage through colourful performances. In the Child Village, visitors can partake in 214 activities comprising workshops, storytelling sessions, and Family and Child programmes throughout the three-week event. Children can also look forward to participating in a host of traditional games.
Cultural and academic programmes
The Cultural Café will host 20 lectures, and book signings with the launch of 15 new book titles by SIH. A special heritage bulletin will be distributed daily, as well as the special issue of Marawed magazine. The Heart of Sharjah will host 17 cultural lectures and seminars and 17 workshops and storytelling sessions.
Oasis of Reading
This new addition this year will be home to works from the ‘Al Mawrooth Library’ and local publishers.
8 exhibitions include O’koos Salmeen, a photography exhibition by Salmeen Al Suwaidi; crafts from Sharjah Gallery – organised in cooperation with the Archives Department of the Arabian Heritage Centre; pottery items; folk art instruments – organised in partnership with the art committee of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage; a set of artefacts belonging to Judge Ali bin Ibrahim Al Juwaied; furniture inspired by Emirati heritage created by students of the College of Fine Arts & Design, Sharjah; and Arabic manuscripts from Macedonia.
SHD in Khorfakkan
A series of cultural programmes, lectures, art performances, workshops, handcraft displays, and competitions will also be held in Khorfakkan.
Many precautionary measures have been put in place to keep people safe from Covid-19, including two entry and exit gates with thermal detectors; social distancing signs and posters; availability of masks and sanitisers; and daily sterilisation of venues.
The World Heritage village will undergo 30-minute sterilisation after each activity. Visitor entry is limited to 3,000 on weekdays and 6,000 during the weekend.
>22 activities, including including seminars and workshops will showcase traditional Arab heritage
>67 crafts inspired by the UAE’s mountains, desert, coastline and agriculture will be featured
>80 stalls to showcase traditional products, Emirati costumes and local and global cuisine.
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