New des­ti­na­tion, old stop

Muham­mad Yusuf re­ports on the re­mak­ing of a UAE her­itage site as a new cul­tural des­ti­na­tion

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - CONTENTS FOCUS -

The Depart­ment of Cul­ture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has an­nounced that the open­ing of Al Hosn, a new cul­tural des­ti­na­tion lo­cated in the heart of down­town Abu Dhabi, will take place on Dec 7.

Al Hosn is the city’s orig­i­nal ur­ban block and will com­prise four in­ter­re­lated fea­tures: the his­toric Qasr Al Hosn Fort; the Cul­tural Foun­da­tion; the Na­tional Con­sul­ta­tive Coun­cil build­ing and tHE HousE oF Ar­tI­sAns. THE oFiCIAl launch will be ac­com­pa­nied by many days of pub­lic pro­gram­ming.

Qasr Al Hosn is the old­est and most sIGnIiCAnt HEr­ItAGE sItE In Abu Dhabi city, en­com­pass­ing two iconic build­ings: the In­ner Fort dat­ing back to around 1795 and the Outer Palace, built in the 1940s.

Awit­ness toAbu Dhabi’s his­tory, over the past two cen­turies it has pre­vi­ously been home to the rul­ing fam­ily, the seat of gov­ern­ment, the con­sul­ta­tive coun­cil and the na­tional ar­chives.

Now­trans­formed­in­toa­mu­seum fol­low­ing sev­eral years of rig­or­ous and am­bi­tious con­ser­va­tion works, Qasr Al Hosn has trans­formed it­self into a na­tional mon­u­ment that traces the city’s de­vel­op­ment From A sEt­tlE­mEnt rE­lIAnt on isH­InG and pearling in the 18th cen­tury, to a modern, global me­trop­o­lis, with the fort now sur­rounded by Abu Dhabi’s sky­scrapers and the down­town area.

The newly ren­o­vated premises of the Cul­tural Foun­da­tion will host a di­verse vis­ual and per­form­ing arts pro­gramme, along­side the open­ing of the first Chil­dren’s Li­brary of its kind. To mark the oc­ca­sion, the Foun­da­tion’s Vis­ual Arts Cen­tre will present a land­mark ex­hi­bi­tion which will fo­cus on the build­ing’s his­tory as a bea­con for lo­cal artists.

Cul­tural Foun­da­tion will re­open in phases al­low­ing ac­cess to the Vis­ual Arts Cen­tre, which will fea­ture ex­hi­bi­tion halls and art stu­dios. The two re­main­ing com­po­nents – a theatre and the Chil­dren’s Li­brary – will open in 2019.

Mo­hamed Khal­ifa Al Mubarak, Chair­man, DCT Abu Dhabi said: “With the Al Hosn site, we look to fos­ter a sense of com­mu­nity and make a home for Emi­rati cul­ture.

It Is A plACE to BotH rElECt on our past and em­brace the present, as we look to shape Abu Dhabi’s fu­ture”.

Saif Saeed Ghobash, Un­der­sec­re­tary, DCT Abu Dhabi said: “Al Hosn will stand as a proud rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the iden­tity of Abu Dhabi with an in­no­va­tive of­fer­ing of cul­tural and in­spi­ra­tional ex­pe­ri­ences”.

Qasr Al Hosn’s In­ner Fort and Outer Palace are ma­jor ref­er­ence points to the his­tory of Abu Dhabi, telling the story of the city and its peo­ple, their his­tory and modern her­itage.

The per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tions in these spa­ces will of­fer a mul­ti­lay­ered vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence, cre­at­ing aware­ness of Qasr Al Hosn as the wit­ness to Abu Dhabi’s nar­ra­tive by pro­vid­ing in­sights into the lives of the men, women and chil­dren who lived in the Outer Palace and ex­plor­ing the story of the con­ser­va­tion of the fort’s struc­tures.

Pub­lic pro­gram­ming in the Qasr Al Hosn Fort area will in­clude spe­cial­ist tours such as ar­chae­ol­ogy and ar­chi­tec­tural tours; re-en­act­ments of as­pects of daily life and rit­u­als at the fort: a Ma­jlis pro­gramme will in­tro­duce the Fort’s vis­i­tors to its his­tory and sIGnIiCAnCE. THErE wIll Also BE ac­tiv­i­ties for chil­dren and youth.

Founded by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sul­tan Al Nahyan in 1981, Cul­tural Foun­da­tion wAs tHE rE­GIon’s irst DED­I­CAtED mul­tI­pur­posE non-proit Cul­turAl cen­tre, con­ceived as a pub­lic in­sti­tu­tion with a man­date to fos­ter all forms of in­tel­lec­tual and cre­ative ac­tiv­ity.

The re­open­ing of Cul­tural Foun­da­tion comes af­ter an ex­ten­sive re­fur­bish­ment, with ma­jor up­grades in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the Chil­dren’s Li­brary, a vi­brant open gallery for vis­ual arts, in­door and out­door ex­hi­bi­tion spa­ces, a 900-seat theatre and out­door am­phithe­atre, learn­ing and work­shop fa­cil­i­ties and food and bev­er­age ar­eas.

The Cul­tural Foun­da­tion has a newly ren­o­vated Vis­ual Arts Cen­tre, two ex­hi­bi­tion halls and artists’ stu­dios which will host year-round pro­gram­ming in­clud­ing open stu­dios, Artists in Res­i­dence, talks, art classes and work­shops.

The De­cem­ber open­ing will see the Vis­ual Arts Cen­tre host a ex­hi­bi­tion with UAE artists re­flect­ing on the build­ing’s his­tory as a con­vener of artists and creatives.

Lo­cated along­side Qasr Al Hosn and Cul­tural Foun­da­tion, House of Ar­ti­sans will serve as a fo­cal point for the pro­mo­tion and preser­va­tion of the UAE’s in­tan­gi­ble her­itage. In 2011, UN­ESCO listed the Al Sadu (weav­ing) on its List of In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural El­e­ments for Ur­gent Safe­guard­ing, and House of Ar­ti­sans was founded as a co­or­di­nated ef­fort to pro­tect and sup­port this and other tra­di­tional Emi­rati crafts and those who prac­tice them.

House of Ar­ti­sans will serve as a cen­tre for not only pre­serv­ing and dis­play­ing the tra­di­tional crafts of the United Arab Emi­rates, but will also en­able the trans­mis­sion of knowl­edge and skills around these crafts. The fo­cus will be on the core skills of weav­ing, palm braid­ing and em­broi­dery.

A view of the north façade of Qasr Al Hosn.

Ren­der­ing of Chil­dren’s Li­brary.

A view of the Chil­dren’s Li­brary.

Qasr Al Hosn North Façade, 1960s.

Ren­der­ing of Al Hosn site, Abu Dhabi.

Ren­der­ing of Cul­tural Foun­da­tion in­te­rior.

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