Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA), the UAE’s leading international relations and diplomacy, education, executive training and research institution, launched its Culture Week, with the aim of enhancing cultural awareness, soft power and tolerance.
The five-day event commenced on Sunday with a high-level panel discussion highlighting the importance of cultural understanding in diplomacy and the integral role diplomats play in promoting this understanding across sectors. The distinguished panellists also stressed the pivotal role of cultural diplomacy as soft power in today’s geo-political landscape.
Moderated by His Excellency Dr Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation and Cultural Advisor at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, the high-level international panel included His Excellency Paulo Portas, former Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of Portugal, His Excellency Talal Shubailat, Ambassador and Executive Director of the European Commission-League of Arab States Liaison Office, Her Excellency Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Department, Sir Anthony Seldon, British contemporary historian, commentator and political author, and Dubai Abulhoul, Rhodes Scholar and columnist with The Gulf Today and Al Bayan.
His Excellency Bernardino León, President of EDA, said: "The UAE has established itself as an international leader, with policies that promote the principles of peace, tolerance and mutual respect. The UAE is an active participant in resolving many global issues, and supports humanitarian and development projects in many countries around the world. As part of EDA’s drive to enhance understanding across cultures and nationalities, Culture Week is a great platform to promote inter-cultural exchange and awareness.
“We are honoured to host His Excellency Dr Zaki Nusseibeh as a distinguished keynote speaker and moderator of our panel discussion to launch Culture Week. He is an outstanding role model for our young diplomats, with a long career as a trusted senior advisor and translator for the late Sheikh Zayed. Equally inspirational are our international panel of speakers – all established diplomats in their own right."
In his keynote address, His Excellency Dr Nusseibeh discussed how cultural diplomacy is an essential tool for reducing areas of conflict among diverse civilisations, and for reinforcing mutual understanding and building global perspectives that support peace. He also highlighted the UAE’s efforts in promoting cultural diplomacy and international exchange through the launch of projects such as the Saadiyat Cultural District. His Excellency elaborated that the UAE’s rich culture lies in its history, heritage, literature, arts and archaeology.
For his part, His Excellency Paulo Portas stressed that cultural diplomacy is a very critical issue to enable nations to work across different dimensions of soft power. Her Excellency Manal Ataya added that Sharjah has built a diverse culture over the years and that her work in the emirate encourages an open dialogue that celebrates cultural differences. Sir Anthony Seldon also highlighted rapid changes in the diplomatic world, and the necessity of countries to increasingly leverage soft power. He praised the efforts of the UAE and in particular its successes, such as the formation of the Soft Power Council, and the new government ministries of Youth, Happiness, and Tolerance. Dubai Abulhoul commented that younger generations are responsible for the future of their country. She furthered that it is important for them to leverage the culture and heritage of the UAE, and to ensure that their nation continues to be a global cultural destination, as well as a beacon for the exchange of cultural experiences. Dubai concluded by advising on the importance of reading different types of content and being open to topics that challenge viewpoints. The UAE needs to encourage creators of content, not only consumers.
Students from Emirates Diplomatic Academy enjoyed an interactive session with the panel and posed some thought-provoking questions to conclude the evening.
Culture Week continued through the week with key highlights including a special screening of Anwar Roma (The Lights of Rome) in collaboration with Image Nation, a documentary telling the incredible story of the UAE national football team’s success in qualifying for the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.
Furthermore, EDA is hosting a talent showcase offering students an opportunity to present the culturally relevant skills they need to emerge as well-rounded diplomats in the future.
On Wednesday, a cultural excursion will showcase the UAE’s rich heritage allowing students the chance to appreciate the art and culture of people from around the world. Participants can explore the history of the country at Qasr Al Hosn, the symbolic birthplace of Abu Dhabi and former home to the emirate's ruling Al Nahyan family. In addition, they will visit local and foreign art collections at Manarat Al Saadiyat at the Saadiyat Cultural District Abu Dhabi.
Underlining the deeply rooted links between language and culture and the influence of language on society, the final day of Culture Week will focus on foreign languages taught at EDA, and explore how the use of multiple languages shapes one’s perception of the world.
Emirates Diplomatic Academy provides a holistic and streamlined educational experience that supports and enhances the diplomatic capabilities of the UAE with advanced teaching methods, through lectures and interactive discussions by leading diplomats and decision makers. EDA’s comprehensive study programmes train students in all aspects of diplomatic practice, empowering them to become worthy representatives of their country abroad.