The louvre

UAE: Meet the Emirati women who drive the Louvre Abu Dhabi narrative – News

They talk about their journey with the museum

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Published: Thu 25 August 2022, 19:03

Last update: Thu 25 August 2022, 22:36

As the UAE prepares to celebrate Emirati Women’s Day, we feature three UAE women – Mariam Al Dhaheri, Sara Al Mahmoud and Nada Al Aydaroos – who have been instrumental in promoting Louvre Abu Dhabi – one of the biggest cultural and artistic destinations in the country.

The Emiratis spoke about their journey with Louvre Abu Dhabi, the roles and evolution of the museum over the years since its official opening in 2017.

Mariam Al Dhaheri, curatorial assistant

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For Mariam Al Dhaheri, communicating with the various audiences in the museum is one of her favorite roles.

The curatorial assistant, dedicated to the Middle Ages, started working at the cultural destination in January 2015 after earning a degree in communication and media sciences at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. During the first six years, she mainly worked in public relations.

“I joined the curatorial team in September 2021 while pursuing my Masters in Art History and Museum Studies at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, adapting my skills and knowledge to the science, curatorial and collection management,” she said.

“Walking through the galleries, a journey through time and space, the responsibility lies with the storytellers. My journey evolved from how I tell this story as a communicator for a variety of audiences, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the job. The first privilege, however, is to interact with the artwork. Meeting them at first sight, researching them and finally, communicating their many stories,” the Emirati said.

Al Dhaheri, who works with the Chief Curator in designing and implementing the artworks on display and expanding loan agreements, said: “It was a unique opportunity to be part of the opening in 2017 and witnessing a historic moment in Abu Dhabi’s cultural heritage development.”

One of the most memorable moments for Al Dhaheri was his meeting with the President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and French President Emmanuel Macron during the opening of the galleries.

Historically, Emirati women have contributed greatly to the development of art and culture, from opera to the visual arts, and will continue to do so.

Speaking on how the exhibits/displays at Louvre Abu Dhabi have changed since it opened and what can be expected in the future, Al Dhaheri said that as part of the intergovernmental agreement, the loans from their 13 French partner museums are to be gradually replaced by the permanent collection.

“As an Emirati museum, we are also developing our own semi-permanent national collection. The museum is also actively forging new partnerships with regional and more distant museums – the most recent being with the Ayala Museum in the Philippines,” she said.

“As the museum approaches its fifth anniversary in November, our visitors can look forward to the opening of three major exhibitions, including Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity, the most comprehensive Impressionist exhibition in the region to date. .”

There are also a number of new acquisitions currently on display for the enjoyment of visitors, including the Sapi-Portuguese Oliphant (1490-1530) from Sierra Leone; Nautilus (1561) from China and Flanders; and a ceremonial ax (19th century) from the Kanak culture of New Caledonia, she said.

Nada Al Aydaroos, loyalty program manager

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Nada Al Aydaroos, Loyalty Program Manager at the museum, handles individual donations and focuses on membership programs. Its role is to create a community of loyal museum goers and engage with them through various activations.

Speaking about her journey with Louvre Abu Dhabi, Al Aydaroos says she was lucky enough to join one of the museum’s internship programs before it opened in 2017.

“Being part of an important intergovernmental project opened my eyes to the cultural world, and when I started this journey with Louvre Abu Dhabi, I knew immediately that this was where I wanted to work. I haven’t looked back since,” she said.

“I manage membership programs, working with almost every department in the museum – creating policies, procedures, events, research and content. As my career progressed, I took on an expanded mission to introduce new membership programs – with the overall goal of encouraging and nurturing the next generation of art and culture lovers,” Al Aydaroos said.

Having access to the backstage of the first universal museum in the Arab world is the favorite aspect of Al Aydaroos’ work. “I love it! Knowing the full story and details behind it all motivates me to do more, and it reminds me of why I’m here and why I love what I do,” he said. she stated.

The Emiratis said it was a privilege to be part of the team that helped open a one-of-a-kind museum in the region. “Now, nearly five years later, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is considered one of the modern urban wonders of the world, and I am proud to play a part in raising awareness and building loyalty for a monumental and integral institution. of Abu Dhabi’s cultural landscape,” she said.

Present at the Louvre Abu Dhabi since the pre-opening days, Al Aydaroos has seen visitors from all over the world visit the museum and seen its projects come to life. “I had the opportunity to create a community of art lovers here in Abu Dhabi. “I won’t forget the picnic we held earlier this year in the museum grounds – it was inspiring to see so many people – families, children and young people – coming together to have fun in one place .”

She said they focus on three main pillars: outreach, engagement and outreach to create a community of loyal museum members. “The art, artifacts, exhibitions and events of Louvre Abu Dhabi combine to tell the shared human stories that transcend differences in culture, time and place. My role is to bring this vision to life and create meaningful experiences for our members.

The museum engages its members in all its activities and also organizes exclusive “moments” and events for them, including curatorial talks, tours and exhibition previews.

“An exciting event we are working on this month is the Mirzam factory tour and dinner hosted by Aptitude Café with museum curators,” says Al Aydaroos.

Sara Al Mahmoud, Senior Production Officer

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Sara AlMahmoud, Senior Production Officer, developed the foundations of the museum’s cultural programming unit into what it is today

She says her journey with Louvre Abu Dhabi began the moment she read the announcement for the project and saw the rendered photos of the museum’s iconic dome. “I was fascinated by the beauty of the structure and strived to be able to work in this institution one day,” she said.

“Years later, in 2015, the museum launched its first “Louvre Abu Dhabi Ambassadors Program”, where I had the opportunity to join the International Affairs Unit as an intern, helping to opening of the museum in early 2018.”

The Emirati officially joined the team as head of auditorium programming and had responsibility for developing the foundations of the cultural programming unit into what it is today. With his experience in events and his love for culture, the Emirati was able to launch the series of film screenings, the series of lectures, public activations and numerous performances and installations.

Currently, Al Mahmoud leads the creation of cultural programs related to museum content and engaging the public (such as film screenings, performances, lectures, symposiums and others). The favorite aspect of her work is that it connects her to the audience by giving her a chance to hear what they want and giving them experiences they will always remember.

“I am proud to have participated in the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi and to have been able to execute more than 160 programs over the past 5 years, ranging from symposiums and conferences, performances and concerts, film screenings and public activations such than yoga and kayaking,” she said.

“One of my greatest accomplishments was leading the Louvre Abu Dhabi team in the Department of Culture (DCT) Innovation Acceleration Program in 2021 and winning first place with four brilliant members of the team. I brought our winning idea to life through the immersive production “The Royal Secret Soirée” which will now become an unmissable experience every year, in connection with our temporary exhibitions.

Al Mahmoud says being one of the few Emirati women to have had such a big impact on the UAE’s cultural scene makes her proud.

She said that some of the major cultural programs that have had a strong impact on the audience include “The Roads of Arabia”, “Battle of Styles”, “Electro Night”, “The Royal Secret Evening” and “Retro Blast”, and many Suite. The beauty of these programs stems from reinterpreting culture and finding common ground that unites all individuals as one.

As the museum’s 5th anniversary approaches in November, its team has many more exciting events to plan.