On the sidelines and part of UAE’s delegation to the United States Department of State Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom Conference, His Excellency Zaki Nusseibeh, United Arab Emirates Minister of State and Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy met with top leadership at Smithsonian Institution and the Freer Sackler Gallery to discuss longstanding and ongoing numerous partnership and mutually beneficial collaborations and opportunities with the UAE.
At the Smithsonian Institution, Minister Nusseibeh met in the historic Regents’ Room with Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large Dr. Richard Kurin. Minister Nusseibeh and Dr. Kurin discussed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Smithsonian and the United Arab Emirates as well various successful projects and initiatives created and implemented in joint cooperation with Smithsonian and the UAE.
The Smithsonian Institution-United Arab Emirates Memorandum of Understanding, signed in December of 2017 by UAE Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba and Smithsonian Secretary Dr. David J. Skorton identifies multiple areas of collaboration, including the development of knowledge-building programs, such as distance mentoring, training workshops, internships and fellowships that will support capacity-building efforts across the UAE’s cultural sector.
Minister Nusseibeh and Dr. Kurin shared a number of stories highlighting the similarities, common interests and shared values UAE and US founding leadership had in providing cultural, educational and scientific opportunities and resources to the public as a means of breaking down misinformation and building bridges of cultural understanding and inclusivity between people from all countries, cultures and beliefs.
At the Freer Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian art Minister Nusseibeh sat down with Director Chase F. Robinson, Chief Curator Massumeh Farhad & Assistant Curator of Islamic Art Dr. Simon Rettig. The group discussed a number of culturally important initiatives and exhibits at the Freer Galleries as well as in Museums across the United Arab Emirates, including Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Minister Nusseibeh was provided with an extensive tour of the galleries that included artifacts and masterpieces of art from China, Japan, Korea, South and Southeast Asia, the ancient Near East, and the Islamic world.
Commenting on his visit with the Smithsonian, Minister Nusseibeh said, “partnerships like UAE’s with prestigious organizations like the Smithsonian Institution are enhancing the importance of cultural diplomacy and increasing multicultural exchange of ideas, sharing of art and artifacts and information”. “We look forward to our continued close working relationship with Smithsonian as we explore exciting opportunities that benefit both country’s cultural, heritage, environmental, conservation and archeological interests”.
The United Arab Emirates, represented by the embassy in Washington, DC is working closely with Smithsonian Institution on a number of projects that cover a wide range of fields and subjects, including music, history, zoology, environment, architecture and more.
Minister Nusseibeh met with Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and the Head of UAE’s Cultural Diplomacy in the US, Dana Al Marashi at the UAE embassy later that day. Ambassador Al Otaiba and Ms. Al Marashi presented the Minister with an extensive list of successfully completed projects and initiatives with a variety of US partners that cover professional delegations to the UAE, art exhibitions, cultural diplomacy discussions, sports diplomacy programs, heritage festivals, Special Olympics support, music and student exchanges among a long list of projects in the works for the rest of 2019 and beyond, including support and delegations for and to the 2020 World Expo in Dubai.