Historic Agreement Signed Between
National Archives of the UAE and the National Library of Israel
MOU most significant agreement of its kind, following last year’s signing of “Abraham Accords”
Document “commits the two organizations to work together”
The National Archives (NA) of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi and the National Library of Israel (NLI) in Jerusalem have signed an historic memorandum of understanding, which “commits the two organizations to work together in support of mutual and separate goals and for the benefit of the international cultural and documentary heritage sector,” according to the agreement signed by the institutions’ directors, Dr. Abdulla M. Alraisi and Oren Weinberg.
Some seven months into the “Abraham Accords”, this MOU represents the most significant institutional agreement in the field of cultural heritage. Both the NA and the NLI serve as central institutions of national memory for their respective countries and broader publics. In recent years, both have launched expansive and diverse efforts to serve scholars and wider audiences domestically and internationally.
The document, which is valid for an initial three-year period, lays out a number of areas for collaboration, including digitization and digital sharing of holdings and research materials; professional knowledge sharing; cultural exchange such as conferences, workshops, trainings, study tours, exhibitions, and more.
A number of specific collaborative initiatives are already under discussion, specifically in the digital realm.
The NA is one of the oldest cultural institutions in the UAE and the largest documentation organization in the Arabian Gulf region. It collects historical material relating to the United Arab Emirates in particular and the Arabian Gulf states in general, and also documents, indexes and translates the materials collected; publishes specialized historical research; and hosts and organizes conferences, symposiums, and exhibitions domestically and internationally.
The NLI is the dynamic institution of national memory for the Jewish people worldwide and Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths, serving as Israel’s leading research library, while offering a range of educational, cultural and digital initiatives. NLI holds the world’s largest collection of textual Judaica, as well as a significant collection of Islamic manuscripts and Arabic materials, as well as one of the region’s leading research collections on the Middle East. The landmark new NLI campus – with state-of-the-art facilities for research, as well as cultural and educational programming – is on schedule to open in Jerusalem in 2022.
David Blumberg, Chairman of the Board of Directors, National Library of Israel: “I have no doubt that the real leap forward in ensuring sustainable peace and cordial relations over time will be in the realm of cultural ties, and in the importance of respect for other cultures. I am certain that close collaboration between the National Archives of the UAE and the National Library of Israel will serve as a cornerstone in ensuring warm relations for the mutual benefit of both countries into the future.”
Dr. Abdulla M. Alraisi, Director-General, National Archives of the United Arab Emirates: Archives, said: ” The National Archives has spread its wings around the world to reach the most advanced global archives and libraries, to obtain the documents that come at the heart of its interest as it documents the memory of the homeland for generations, and here we are today trying to complete our mission by reaching the holdings of the Israeli National Library to enhance the holdings of the National Archives with more documents, books and periodicals that were issued in the Hebrew language, which has become of great significance to intellectuals and those interested in history, heritage and contemporary sciences”.
Dr. Raquel Ukeles, Head of Collections, National Library of Israel: “We are dedicated to opening access to our treasures for diverse audiences in Israel and around the globe. Each year tens of thousands of researchers from across the Middle East utilize our digitized collections of rare manuscripts, historic press and other materials. Our new regional partnership with the National Archives of the UAE will advance our shared goals of preserving and opening access to cultural heritage for the benefit of users of all ages and backgrounds in Israel, the UAE and across the region and the world.”
About the National Library of Israel
Founded in Jerusalem in 1892, the National Library of Israel (NLI) serves as the dynamic collective memory of the Jewish people worldwide and Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths. While continuing to serve as Israel’s pre-eminent research library, NLI is now in the midst of an ambitious journey of renewal to encourage diverse audiences in Israel and around the globe to engage with its treasures in new and meaningful ways. This is taking place through a range of innovative educational, cultural and digital initiatives, as well as through a new landmark campus designed by Herzog and de Meuron, with Mann-Shinar serving as the Executive Architect. The new campus is currently under construction adjacent to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem, and is on schedule to open its doors in 2022.
NLI collection highlights include significant handwritten works by luminaries such as Maimonides and Sir Isaac Newton, exquisite Islamic manuscripts dating back to the ninth century and the personal archives of leading cultural and intellectual figures including Martin Buber, Natan Sharansky and Naomi Shemer. It also holds the world’s largest collections of textual Judaica, Jewish and Israeli music, and maps of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, as well as world-class collections of manuscripts, ancient maps, rare books, photographs, communal and personal archival materials, and more.
The new NLI campus, currently under construction adjacent to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem, is on schedule to open its doors in 2022. The building and its surrounding gardens and plazas will reflect the central values of democratizing knowledge and opening the National Library’s world-class collections and resources to as broad and diverse an audience as possible. Within its 45,000 square meters (480,000 sq. ft.) of space, it will provide venues for exhibitions, as well as cultural and educational programming in a secure, sustainable and state-of-the-art environment. Partners in the building renewal project are led by the Government of Israel, the Rothschild Family through the auspices of Yad Hanadiv, and the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Family of New York.
About the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates
Upon directives of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the National Archives was established in 1968 under the name of “Documents and Research Bureau”, and was affiliated with Al Diwan Al Amiri (Ruler’s Court). Its objectives were defined as collecting documents and information relating to the history and culture of the Arabian Peninsula in general and the United Arab Emirates in particular, from primary sources in Arab and foreign countries. It has been entrusted with the documentation and translation of these documents. In 1972, its name was changed to the Center for Documentation & Research (CDR).
In just over fifty years, the National Archives has achieved a pioneer status as the first of its kind in the Middle East and the sixth in the world, due to its adoption of the latest technologies available to accomplish its mission. It is one of the oldest cultural institutions in the United Arab Emirates and the largest documentation organization in the Arabian Gulf region. In addition to its role in documentation and archiving, the National Archives provides intellectuals with a variety of publications that explore both authentic cultural and contemporary issues in history and heritage.
The National Archives collects valuable historical material relating to the United Arab Emirates in particular and the Arabian Gulf states in general. It also documents, indexes and translates the material collected, based on which it publishes specialized historical research. Moreover, it hosts and organizes local, regional and international conferences and symposiums, in addition to holding related exhibitions both locally and abroad.
Source: GPO News