Thursday 13th April 2017
The world heritage sites of Al Ain testify to the wealth of cultural traditions in the United Arab Emirates, said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, during a visit to Al Ain today, home to the UAE’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
''UNESCO is committed to working with Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) to make the most of this potential for social cohesion, identity and dignity, as well as economic growth. I wish to pay tribute to the dedication of cultural authorities in fostering a strong vision of culture as a force for sustainable development and peace,'' Bokova affirmed.
'' We must continue working together to showcase the depth of this heritage and the values it carries for the young generation; this is also how we can respond to those who seek to exploit ignorance, distort history and manipulate culture. This is how we can defeat hatred and extremism," she added.
Led by Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), the tour started with Al Ain Oasis, inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and open to the public since last November, and included visits to key historic and cultural sites of Al Ain such as Qasr Al Muwaiji and Al Jahili Fort. The tour coincided with the CultureSummit 2017 Abu Dhabi, which brings together leaders from the worlds of government, arts and media, technology and policy makers at Manarat Al Saadiyat from 9th to 13th April to address the role culture can play in relation to some of the challenges of our time.
The oasis of Al Ain is one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited oases and includes spectacular archaeological remains from over 5,000 years ago and wonderfully lush palm groves.
The site has been interpreted as an Oasiscape showing the value and importance of an oasis for the benefit of the planet and all-mankind and has created a filter zone between the oasis and the city. The visit is organised through the Al Ain Visitor Route, an aesthetic and cognitive itinerary that enables the visitor to understand the history of the oasis. An Eco Visitor Centre narrates the history of the oasis and introduces the visitor to the site through multi-media installations The visit continues with exhibitions including the Oasian Garden with botanical components presented in three distinct divisions of the garden with spatial organisation showing a monumental fountain fed by the Shari'a; and a plaza for halting and enjoying the Nagfa Ridge Overlook.
During the tour of Al Ain’s sites, Mohamed Al Mubarak commented: "Al Ain is a prime example of Abu Dhabi’s continued dedication to the preservation of historic sites that represent the rich and diverse history of the UAE. We are committed to ensuring that the wheels set in motion continue to move towards a tangible framework for the protection of culture for future generations."
In 2011, Al Ain site was the first in the UAE to be inscribed on UNESCO’s world heritage site list, comprising of four locations: the Bronze Age Hafeet Tombs, the archaeological settlements at Hili, the prehistoric vestiges at Bidaa bint Saud, and the six lush oases of Al Ain, including Al Ain Oasis. Set in a landscape characterised by the oasis, the desert and the mountain, the sites bear witness to unique cultural traditions, which developed on the crossroads of ancient routes in the Arabian Peninsula. The outstanding value derives from their ability to narrate how the local population was able to adapt to the harsh desert environment and live there continuously from the Neolithic Period to the present day.