Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi supporting preservation of earthen heritage

Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi supporting preservation of earthen heritage

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has spearheaded several successful programmes and partnerships in 2023, which aim to fulfil its mandate to promote, protect and progress the emirate’s heritage and culture.

Among the programmes, specifically within earthen heritage, DCT Abu Dhabi partnered with So-Hath/100 Hands Foundation as part of a training programme for its artisans. Titled Relearning with Earth, the programme helped 42 artisans and craftsmen refine their skills in restoring and preserving Abu Dhabi’s earthen heritage sites.

The training programme supports DCT Abu Dhabi’s goals to enhance the skills and knowledge of artisans working in the field of conservation of earthen heritage in the region.  The programme, which included lectures and workshops, also led to the creation of three conservation manuals in four languages – Arabic, English, Urdu and Hindi – and featured the principles, techniques and traditions of earthen construction.

Jaber Al Merri, DCT Abu Dhabi’s Director of the Historic Environment Department, said: “Preserving historic buildings and training skilled artisans are crucial to protecting our emirate’s cultural legacy. By nurturing a community of skilled artisans and craftspeople through strategic collaborations that deliver impactful training programmes, we are ensuring that traditional building knowledge and techniques live on.”

Within earthen heritage in 2023, DCT Abu Dhabi also partnered with UAE-based architecture studio, Dabbagh Architecture, to build an art installation for the second edition of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial (SAT02) that concluded this March. The installation that was on show at Al Qassimiya School was conceptualised to explore the relationship between memory and materiality.

Titled EARTH TO EARTH, the installation was constructed using earthen blocks and earthen plasters without any structural reinforcement. Construction of the installation drew from the expertise of DCT Abu Dhabi’s artisans who had completed the earthen construction training programme, allowing them to apply their knowledge during the project.

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