Look: Rare photos of Sheikh Zayed on display at cultural exhibition

Abu Dhabi - Residents can also learn interesting anecdotes about Abu Dhabi’s Cultural Foundation


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Wed 20 Oct 2021, 9:08 PM

A new in-person exhibition at Abu Dhabi’s Cultural Foundation is offering community members a great opportunity to see some rare photos of the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and key moments in the country’s history.

‘Al Mujamma’, an interactive archival exhibition, narrates the story of the foundation from its conceptualisation by Sheikh Zayed in 1973 to its opening in 1981 and other milestones.

There are photos of Sheikh Zayed inspecting the Cultural Foundation, when the construction work was under way.

You’ll find frames of the Founding Father inaugurating a session of the Federal National Council (FNC) in the presence of the Rulers of Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah, and other sheikhs and ministers.

Another photo shows Sheikh Zayed with the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Several images showcase how the foundation regularly hosted Sheikh Zayed, presidential ceremonies, high-level ministerial meetings, exhibitions and special functions.

There are footnotes with messages. One speech from Sheikh Zayed during the FNC reads: “The federal experience in the country is stabilising, and the wealth must be directed to provide a better life for all citizens.”

Through the exhibition, residents can also learn interesting anecdotes about the foundation, which sits opposite Qasr Al Hosn.

For instance, the heritage building was initially known as the Foundation of Documentation and Cultural Institutions. It was in 1984 that Sheikh Zayed issued a decree changing the name to the Cultural Foundation or ‘Al Mujamma Al Thaqafi’ — the Arabic name highlighting how the building encapsulated diverse governmental and societal functions.

An all-Emirati team of curators — Aysha Al Hemeiri, Reem Al Hashmi and Noor Al Mehairbi — put together this exhibition, which also marks a large-scale return of activities at the foundation.

Apart from ‘Al Mujamma’, there are installations by three Emirati artists: Mahmoud Al Ramahi, Jalal Luqman and Azza Al Qubaisi; and a series of short films shedding light on the story of six Emirati artists: Abdulrahim Salem, Dr Mohamed Yousef, Khulood Al Jaberi, Mahmoud Al Ramahi, Mona Al Khaja and Obaid Suroor.

Then, there is also the Experience Mars children’s exhibition, an immersive experience celebrating the UAE’s achievements in space.

Reem Fadda, director of the Cultural Foundation, noted that the exhibitions, installations and short films will take people on a beautiful cultural journey across Abu Dhabi and the UAE through the eyes of historians and artists.


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“As a continuation of our efforts to preserve Emirati history and culture while supporting the contemporary art scene in Abu Dhabi, these activations provide a platform to narrate the story of the Cultural Foundation, its social impact on the public and the artistic community, shed light on pioneering Emirati artists and document their journey with the cultural centre," Fadda said.

The exhibition runs till February 15, 2022. The foundation, which is in the heart of the Abu Dhabi City, is open from Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 7pm, and Fridays from 2pm to 7pm.

Residents need to just show the Green Pass on Al Hosn app to gain entry.

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