The Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority was invited as a special guest to a landmark event in the sphere of cultural, artistic and creative industries in the island nation of Mauritius.
On the first day of the inaugural Mauritius International Art Fair (MIAF), Manal Ataya gave opening remarks ahead of the Key note by HE Mr. Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, G.O.S.K. Acting President, Republic of Mauritius.
Addressing a crowd of over 200 attendees, Ataya highlighted the similarity between the UAE and Mauritius in terms of how tourism is increasingly playing an integral role in building the economy.
During her speech, Ataya focused on culture as a great asset and a source of interest for tourists and residents alike.
Ataya stressed that cultural tourism enables countries to invest in preserving heritage and historical sites. It also paves the way for establishing more museums and cultural foundations that help strengthen people’s national pride and connection to their culture and identity.
“Sharing one’s culture with others widens human understanding and cultural dialogue which all lead to better social cohesion and harmony,” she said.
Due to her extensive experience in developing museums and working in community engagement, Ataya was also a key speaker during the “Art and Cultural Ecosystem in Mauritius” panel discussion the following day.
Other panelists included Prof at the Sorbonne University Dr. Didier Wong Chi Man, Tristan Breville, Director of the Museum of Photography in Italy; and Salim Carriumjee, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean (ICAIO).
Held on August 10 at the newly opened Caudan Arts Centre, the session brought together art professionals from all over the world to combine efforts in shaping strategies that would help develop the ecosystem of art and culture in Mauritius.
The event highlighted the country’s unique cultural heritage, the challenges facing its museums and cultural industries as well as the means to support and transform them into concrete economic achievements and benefits.
Participants discussed the social role of museums and the need to increase their attractiveness, the importance of education, government and individuals’ support in promoting culture, sponsoring and providing funds.
Enhancing the cultural scene in the island nation and the important role of arts and culture in building creative economies was also discussed during the event.
“The invitation of Sharjah Museums Authority to this fair and to other international events reflect the leading position of the UAE in general and that of the Emirate of Sharjah in particular in the fields of art and culture,” Ataya said.
She said that such events create partnerships and enhance engagement with other cultures while providing opportunities for constructive intercultural dialogue.
Ataya shared her experience in maximizing museums impact in the UAE and the emirate of Sharjah in terms of community engagement and cultural exchange where major events like Sharjah Art Biennial, the Sharjah International Book Fair, Sharjah Heritage Days and Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, to name a few, have become real attractions and helped boost the emirate’s position as a culture capital for its citizens, residents and for its tourists.
Using the model of Sharjah, Ataya underlined the Emirate’s success story- noting its accolades as capital of Arab culture, capital of Islamic culture and this year as Book capital, in becoming a cultural beacon by creating the necessary infrastructure for nurturing emerging talents, showcasing regional and international Arab and Islamic art and introducing its visitors to enriching experiences in culture overall.
The three-day event was organized by the Economic Development Board of Mauritius and Zee Arts.