Abu Dhabi

Culture is heart of sustainable development: UAE minister

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi
ismail@khaleejtimes.com Filed on February 10, 2020 | Last updated on February 10, 2020 at 06.59 pm
Culture, heart, sustainable development, UAE minister,
Noora Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development speaks at the dialogue on "Urbanization, Culture and Innovation on the second day of World Urban Forum held at ADNEC.-Photo by Ryan Lim/Khaleej Times

According to Al Kaabi, urban culture is created through leadership, good policies and what children learn from childhood.

Culture must be at the heart of urban sustainable development, a UAE minister has said, adding that Abu Dhabi's population of many nationalities and innovation have made the city one of the best in the world.

During a discussion on "Urban culture and innovation" at the 10th World Urban Forum (WUF) in Abu Dhabi, Noora Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, said culture is a contributor to urban economic growth and that Abu Dhabi's multi-cultural nature has played a big role in the development of the city.

Abu Dhabi has been described as one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world with about 200 nationalities living and working here.

"This multi-cultural setting where everyone matters despite their nationality, which began right from the early days of the nation, has helped the economic growth of Abu Dhabi city."

She noted that Abu Dhabi city has a beautiful cultural foundation since the 1960s and it has been accommodating everyone.

"The values given to everyone's culture and the respect for one another have taken Abu Dhabi to greater heights," she said.

Al Kaabi said although great architecture is vital for cities, communities and visitors are very connected to cultural and heritage places, beautiful long-stretch walkways in the city than the beautiful tall buildings.

"Fantastic architecture and planning is good for the city. But if people are not connected, it might be difficult to realise sustainable urban growth."

According to Al Kaabi, urban culture is created through leadership, good policies and what children learn from childhood or in schools.

Among the Unesco 2030 Agenda's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 11 on sustainable cities makes it clear that culture has an essential role to play in realising sustainable urban development, particularly through strengthened efforts to protect and safeguard the world's cultural and natural heritage.

Professor Saskia Sassen from Columbia University said urbanisation of cities is a cultural process and that city leaders must not underestimate the role of culture in urban development.

"Cities must use local cultural resources and creativity to catalyse, inspire and drive social and economic change and to enhance local resiliency and development potential," she said.

City plans should include the poor

Dr Beth Chitekwe Biti, managing director of Slum Dwellers International in South Africa, said in some countries, cities have only been planned for the rich and middle class, leaving no room for the poor.

"Slum dwellers are not tolerated in cities and this has in most cases created a counter-culture as some young people often destroy cultural sites because they feel they are discriminated," said Biti.

"Cities are always created for people with money and not leaving room for the poor. Governments and city leaders have a role in making cities accommodative to everyone, including the poor families."

Tim Stonor, architect and planner, said cultures are manifested in the streets, parks and souqs because they are for everyone irrespective of classes.

"Cities must have as many public parks, good streets passing through souks, recreational and sports grounds as possible because they bring together all people," said Stonor.



Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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