ABU DHABI, 23rd January, 2023 (WAM) — Sheikha Alyazia bint Nahyan Al Nahyan, Extraordinary Ambassador for Culture for ALECSO, the Ministry of Culture and Youth, and the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO) have signed a cultural agreement to expand the most recent revelations in rock inscriptions in the Arab world to enrich the project of the Arab Inscriptions Portal.
The agreement is being implemented under a decision made during the 22nd session of the Conference of Ministers for Cultural and Tourism Affairs in the Arab World, held in the UAE. It was regarding the joint Arab cultural project, specifically the expansion of the Arabic Inscriptions Portal, founded by Sheikha Alyazia and launched by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, in April 2021.
Given the significance of this project in documenting one of the main components of cultural heritage in the Arab countries, and presenting it to all scholars, researchers and those interested in this type of linguistic heritage, the partners’ team up to enrich the portal by the active participation of the various Arab ministries of culture and tourism.
In cooperation with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation and the UAE National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, the agreement seeks to support and enrich the Arabic Inscriptions Portal website (www.aip.ae), as one of the latest and important websites in the Arab region for preserving the most prominent aspects of Arab heritage, the rock inscriptions and scripts from the Arab world, with experts joining the project and adding to the site more research accessible to the public.
The signing ceremony began with a presentation by Dr. Mohamed Ould Omar, Director-General of ALECSO.
He said, “I invite all Arab countries to cooperate with the executive team of this agreement because of its importance in documenting one of the components of cultural heritage in the Arab countries and making it available to all scholars, researchers and those interested in this type of written heritage.
“I thank the UAE, represented by the Ministry of Culture and Youth, and Sheikha Alyazia Bint Nahyan Al Nahyan, ALECSO’s Extraordinary Ambassador for Culture, for their continuous support to ALECSO.”
He added, “The signing of this agreement is nothing but the best evidence of the continuity and effectiveness of this cooperation and of the positive and constructive interaction and support provided, which would support joint Arab action and help the organisation to fulfil its mission towards all Arab countries.
Regarding this agreement, Mubarak Al-Nakhi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Youth, said, “Our Arab history has many unique and ancient elements.”
He continued, “The importance of the site lies in being a bank of information that provides scholars and researchers with an ideal opportunity to view an integrated database of rock inscriptions of great importance in empowering the Arabic language and ancient languages. These inscriptions come as an immortal and historical record of our Arab identity and belonging, and a historical reference for our Arabic language.”
He added, “This agreement translates the ministry’s endeavour to urge all concerned parties to exert more efforts to promote the digitisation of Arabic content, preserve this massive heritage through platforms that protect it from loss and dispersion and contribute to raising the level of knowledge about it, for the public or educators alike.”
On this occasion, Dr. Muhammad Al-Kahlawi, President of the Arab Council of the General Union of Arab Archaeologists, said, “I value the Arabic Inscriptions Portal, which preserves the Arab nation’s past, present, and future. It is essential for the safety of these inscriptions in their natural locations in the mountains and valleys, and the human factor that deals with these inscriptions by obliterating them if they are found in an area witnessing a new urban development.”
He added, “These inscriptions are important for the present Arab nation, as they are a clear indication of the unity of the Arab nation. The matter is not related only to collecting inscriptions but to analysing and clarifying the names and tribes, clans and events that they contain, which confirm the nation’s unity and freedom of movement between its different countries. As for the future, we must preserve the Arab identity, endangered due to the alienation and knowledge migration of Arab youth for their cultural heritage.”
He stated that the Arab Inscriptions Portal project, launched by the Ambassador for Culture, won first place. Today it is a tangible reality and has a position at the Arab level in front of Arab researchers to compete in the awards launched under the same name since the site’s founding to motivate young archaeologists to collate this lost heritage.
He added, “I hope some recommendations will be taken into consideration at the beginning of the work, which is the exclusion of inscriptions that have previously been published and work on collecting inscriptions from countries threatened by danger and witnessing armed conflicts. These countries have priority in preserving their heritage that they, unfortunately, may have lost. So, we can collect this heritage for study and analysis. I also hope that those in charge of this project will study the inscriptions from an analytical point of view knowing they will reveal more and correct a lot of historical and cultural information and reveal the status of the Arab civilisation in different countries.”
The Arabic Inscriptions Portal is an easy access data library, and a specialised electronic museum that includes more than 200 inscriptions, showcasing historical discoveries of inscriptions engraved on stones and rocks, being supervised by a group of scientists and researchers from the Emirates.
The site offers a virtual interactive experience for visitors. The browser can tour a virtual three-dimensional exhibition viewing a group of inscriptions selected from the site’s inscriptions collection interactively using augmented virtual reality technologies.
The portal has been supplemented with a new set of Arabic inscriptions by the researchers who won the award for Arabic inscriptions and writings on rocks from the Arab Council of the General Union of Arab Archaeologists. Sheikha Alyazia presented it during the International Conference of the Arab Council over two consecutive sessions – the first award at the council and state levels. These awards aim to encourage researchers to conduct field surveys of rock inscription sites anywhere in the Arab world and to monitor and collect the most important discoveries of Arabic inscriptions and writings on rocks and stones.