Lest We Forget

United Arab Emirates
Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation
This measure was reported by civil society.
Describe the main features of the measure/initiative: 
Lest We Forget is an innovative cultural project that is part digital archive, part oral history and part contemporary artmaking project. The community-based initiative documents and preserves the vernacular photography, oral histories and cultural traditions of earlier generations of UAE Nationals and facilitates an intergenerational dialogue with their descendants through a mix of research, art, storytelling, exhibitions and publications. Since 2014, Lest We Forget has collected and archived valuable intangible memories and photographs related to the UAE from elderly people, Emirati families and long-term residents. Over 200 families have contributed to building the archive and more than 300 interviews have been conducted, mostly in Abu Dhabi and other parts of the UAE. A number of elderly women and men were interviewed for the first time by Lest We Forget with the hope to have their memories preserved and shared with younger generations. Differing from most academic or museum initiatives, Lest We Forget promotes a deep understanding of Emirati culture by collecting the personal memories of those with their own knowledge and experience of the culture and heritage of the UAE, and then inviting younger generations to creatively engage with the memories of their elders through the medium of contemporary art. Lest We Forget has hosted a series of exhibitions both internationally and in the UAE since 2014. Each exhibition has been accompanied by the publication of a dedicated book or publication. Lest We Forget also provides internship opportunities to local students. Its goal is to continue building a library of tangible and intangible material that will serve as a central resource for students, researchers and the wider community to access and gather information. The library will also be accessible digitally allowing the material to be shared with the global community who are intrigued to learn more about the culture and heritage of the UAE.
What are the results achieved so far through the implementation of the measure/initiative?: 
• Lest We Forget curated nine exhibitions which explore Emirati culture — traditional and contemporary— through the language of art. The exhibitions were visited by approximately 100,000 guests and featured photographs, films, old sentimental objects, jewelry, garments and creative works generated by Lest We Forget in collaboration with contributors. • With every exhibition Lest We Forget produces publications that contain beautiful memories and photographs shared to the archive by the community. A total of 6 publications were produced some of the topics include family photographs and stories, tangible and intangible Emirati adornment, stories from individuals about the late Sheikh Zayed, old postcards from Abu Dhabi, and more. • With the archival material gathered creative and contemporary merchandise was designed to bring the archive to life and for people to take a part of it home with them. The image used on the product from the archive is attached to the merchandise to allow people to have the full context on the product. • Lest We Forget actively runs a volunteer and internship program with university and school students. A number of products and artworks were produced by the students during the internship program and showcased at the Lest We Forget exhibitions. • Lest We Forget worked as a consultant for major projects including EXPO 2020 and the UAE 49th National Day show, providing creative teams with cultural guidance and sharing material from the Lest We Forget Archive. An Emirati Visual Palette was designed to showcase significant elements related to culture, heritage and the various landscapes across the Emirates and was used by the creative teams to guide them in their design process. The purpose of the Emirati palette was to deepen people’s understanding of the people of the UAE and to allow them to explore the artifacts and customs that are essential to Emirati hospitality.
Goal(s) of UNESCO's 2005 Convention
Cultural Domain(s)
Media Arts
Visual Arts
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