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UAE Oral History Report

UAE Oral History Report

Submitted by Aisha Bilkhair, Ph.D.

Project Number Remarks
Interviews conducted. 914 This project covers the seven Emirates. The interview topics focus on narrators’ memories–Life History-, as well as specific projects such as grazing, fishing and the island of Al Jazirah Al Hamra.
Number of narrators interviewed from inception of the project to date April 2019. 923 This project targets all those who contributed in the development of the UAE. Narrators include UAE nationals, GCC, Arab and other foreign nationals.
Number of indexed interviews 356 In Colloquial Arabic, and fluent Classic Arabic.
Number of people attending lectures and training workshops on oral history and heritage. 1768


Presentations held for schools, university students, and other interested parties.

Printed and Electronically Published Materials:

  • Publishing of Oral History Interviews – UAE Memory through Oral Narrative – in the semi-annual academic journal (Liwa) published by the National Archives of the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs for the following narrators: Mr. Khamis Zaal Al Rumaithi, Ms. Bakhita Bint Qanoon Al Falasi, Sheikh Sultan Bin Ali Bin Saif Al-Khatteri and Ms. Aisha Ahmed Ali Al-Shahyari.

The Electronic Magazine’s link:

  • Posting of old, local colloquial words extracted from the oral history interviews that are no longer in use, with the explanation of their meanings and roots per Arabic dictionaries – in the National Archives accounts on the social media channels: (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook).
  • The Book “Their Memories Our History”: in which (15) narrators recount their memoirs.

Projects with External Parties Associated with Oral History:

    • Supervising and judging the “Young Historian” Award – Oral History Branch – A student competition sponsored by the National Archives in cooperation with the Ministry of Education with the aim of preserving the history, culture and heritage of the UAE.
    • Restoration and Developing project the buildings of Al Jazirah Al Hamra (an island) in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. The purpose of the project is to acquaint the people of Al Jazirah Al Hamra with the restoration and development project, the preparation of the plan of oral history interviews, interviewing the people of the island and providing the restoration team with the information the narrators have cited to facilitate a proper restoration process. Another important objective is defining the location of the buildings for exploration and training of Zayed University students on the methods of collecting oral history of Al Jazirah Al Hamra. Supervised by Maitha Salman Al Zaabi
    • The State of Grazing project in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi for the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi. Preparation of a list of interview questions and accompanying the concerned team in the agency to conduct oral interviews on this subject. Ms. Shareena Qubaisi prepared a detailed report on this subject. The interviews conducted in 2017 were 11, 7 in 2018 and 5 in 2019. Interviews will be continued until the end of 2019. Supervised by Shareena Said Al Qubaisi and Mariam Sultan Al Mazrouei.
    • Hili Oasis Documentation Project in Al Ain: The training the female students from Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, and the staff in the Department of Historical Buildings and Cultural Zones in the Department of Culture and Tourism in Al Ain – on the methods of conducting oral history interviews for the project. Supervised by Maitha Salman Al Zaab

Cooperation with Government Agencies to Conduct Interviews with Narrators:

  • General Women’s Union, Abu Dhabi.
  • Family Development Foundation (Adult Education) – Al Bateen Branch.
  • Heritage Village – Emirates Heritage Club, Abu Dhabi.
  • The Atelier at the National Theater of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi.
  • Zayed Center for Research and Studies, Abu Dhabi.
  • The Atelier – Emirates Heritage Club, Abu Dhabi.
  • Abu Dhabi Women’s Center – Emirates Heritage Club.
  • Al Haboos Arts and Folks Society, Ras Al Khaimah.
  • Bin Majid Society for Folk Arts, Ras Al Khaimah.
  • Al-Nakheel Society for Folk Arts and Heritage, Ras Al Khaimah.
  • Umm Al Quwain Museum.
  • Ajman Museum.

Attending Forums and Events to Introduce the Oral History Project and to Invite Narrators for Interviews at the National Archives’ Stand, or To Visit Them at the Places They Propose:

  • Mazayina Al Dhafra Camel Festival,(2010).
  • Workshop on Strengthening National Capabilities for Conservation of Moral Cultural Heritage: Training of Trainers in the Arab World, (2011).
  • Liwa Date Festival, (2010-2011).
  • Liwa Ajman Date Festival, (2011).
  • Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX), (2010-2011).
  • Emirates International Date Palm Festival (EIDPF), (2011).
  • Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, (2010-2011).
  • Cultural Convoys, (2011-2012).
  • Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Camel Festival, (2012013-2015).
  • Emirates Heritage Festival, (2012).
  • Qasr Al Hosn Festival, (2013).
  • Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival, (2014-2015-2016).
  • Participation in the National Traditional Handicrafts Festival in Al Ain, (2014).
  • Participation in the 4th International Festival of Falconry, (2017).

Lectures and Workshops Organized by the National Archives in the Field of Oral History and Heritage for the Following Parties:

  • Higher Colleges of Technology: Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. A Lecture on Oral History in the UAE and methods of its collection, (2013).
  • Tourist Summer Camp, (2013).
  • Juvenile Welfare Centre of Abu Dhabi Police General Headquarters, (2015).
  • Zayed University – Abu Dhabi, (2015-2016-2017).
  • External Researchers in the National Archives, (2015).
  • Emirates National Schools – Female Students, (2015).
  • Students in Bahia Primary School, (2014).
  • The Staff members of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Section of Historic Buildings and Sites in Al Ain, (2017).

Lectures, Conferences and Workshops in the Field of Oral History and Heritage in Which the National Archives Participated:

  • A workshop on the Preparation of UNESCO Periodic Report on Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the United Arab Emirates, (2012).
  • A lecture entitled “Oral History”, at the UAE University, at the Heritage Day event organized by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, (2014).
  • Attending the 4th Forum organized by the Arab Open University in the Sultanate of Oman and the National Records and Archive Authority entitled: Omani History: Readings and Analyses, (2014).
  • A paper on “The UAE Experience Represented by the National Archives in Employing Oral History” at the 1st Gulf Conference on Heritage and Oral History held in Abu Dhabi, (2014)
  • Three lectures at the headquarters of the Oral History Association in Bangalore, India, (2015).
  • A lecture entitled “People of the Past and Stories of Their Success”, for the Islamic Affairs Authority’s event the Intergenerational Communication Forum of Generations – Dubai, (2015).
  • Attending the 2nd Gulf Heritage and Oral History Conference held in Abu Dhabi (2015).
  • A paper at the “UAE Heritage Research Conference: Current Trends and Future Prospects,” entitled, “Al Jazirah Al Hamra: History and Memories”, (2017).
  • A lecture on “Oral History” to the teachers of Islamic Education and Social Studies at the Forum of Educational Materials in the Emirate of Ajman, (2018).
  • A workshop on the methods of oral history collection to the New York University – Abu Dhabi and Zayed University – Abu Dhabi at the Bin Majid Society for Folk Arts in Ras Al Khaimah (2018)
  • A lecture on “Oral History” to school students in line with “Zayed, 100 Stories” initiative at Khalifa A School in Abu Dhabi, (2018).
  • A workshop on the importance of the oral history for the students of Al Mawakeb School in Al Barsha, Dubai (65 students in Grade 10 and 11, and 3 teachers, (2018).
  • A lecture entitled “Zayed and Women’s Education” at Al Dana School in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and at Sharjah Documentation and Archives Authority at the Emirate of Sharjah, in line with the 100 Lectures in the Year of Zayed, (2018).
  • Attending the 6th Heritage and Oral History Conference under the theme of “Zayed and Heritage: A Genuine Leader and Nation Identity”, (2018).
  • Attending Abu Dhabi’s First Manuscripts Conference and Exhibition at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, (2019).

Hosting Researchers:

Dr. Shohei Sato, Associate Professor, University of Kanazawa, Northern Japan, joined the Oral History Team at the National Archives to complete his academic research on: The Use of Water Resources in the UAE from a Historical Perspective, (2014-2015-2016).


Visits to the Following Parties to be Keep Current with the Best Standards and Practices Used in Collecting Oral History.

  • Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development – Heritage and Arts Management – Abu Dhabi, 14/12/2015.
  • Zayed Center for Studies and Research – Abu Dhabi, 15/12/2015.

Enhancing Cooperation, Common Objectives and Exchange of Expertise with Government and Semi-Governmental Agencies:

  • Family Development Foundation – Abu Dhabi – 10/05/2015.
  • The Persons Concerned in the Cultural Section of Expo 2020 – Abu Dhabi 09/09/2015.

Provision of Consultations in the Field of Oral History Collection to the UAE Local Institutions:

  • Sheikh Zayed National Museum.
  • Department of Transport – Abu Dhabi: Checking Maritime Terms.
  • Qasr Al Hosn Festival.
  • Federal National Council for the project of Documenting the Oral History of the Old Members of the National Council.
  • Ministry of Public Works in the project of Renovating and Developing the Buildings Al Jazirah Al Hamra and Preparation of a project plan for oral history.
  • Six Degrees – DWC- LLC.
  • Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi in the project of the State of Grazing project in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.


Other Achievements:

  • Preparation of questions and answers for the National (1971) CORRECT DATE? Initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; with the aim to consolidate national knowledge about the UAE in the community.
  • Collaboration with the Department of Corporate and Community Outreach and Dubai Media Incorporated (Sama Dubai) for the participation in recording 13 episodes of the Documentary “Recounting Memories” Program.
  • Providing lists of narrators for television interviews, or inviting them to seminars to share their memories on a specific subject for many government and semi-government agencies, private, and for university and school students.
  • Preparation of questions for Ramadan Cultural Context – General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare.
  • Practical Training for students of Zayed University in Abu Dhabi.


Official site:

Establishment of Sharjah Institute for Heritage

Sharjah Institute for Heritage was established by Emiri Decree No. 70 of 2014 issued by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qassimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. The Institute has the legal personality and the full capacity to carry out the legal acts necessary to achieve its objectives.

Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH) is one of the cultural foundations in the government of Sharjah. The real work has started with the serious and systematic interest in the Emirate of Sharjah since June in the year 1995, although the actual work of heritage has begun in the Emirate of Sharjah since the beginning of the eighties of the last century.


The location of Sharjah Institute for Heritage is in Sharjah University City.


Sharjah Institute for Heritage aspires to be a center of cultural and scientific radiation characterized by excellence and innovation in all its fields so

as to serve the Emirati and Arab cultural heritage. This is to be in harmony with the vision and the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qassimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, May God bless him!.


The Sharjah Institute for Heritage works through a set of practices, programs and activities on preservation and transport of intangible cultural heritage, as well as protecting and preserving the cultural and natural heritage. It is involved in organizing projects of conservation practices, documentation, digital archiving, scientific publishing, human and technical consultation and support, honoring experts at the local, national and regional levels, and enhancing international cooperation through partnership with individuals, institutions and organizations concerned with cultural heritage.


  • Exercising scientific thinking.
  • Supporting the values of pluralism, dialogue and tolerance.
  • Adhering to the ethics of the profession.
  • Objectives:
  • Preparing cadres of the Emirati, the Gulf, and the Arab researchers who value the fieldwork, and who are keen on the conservation of their cultural heritage.
  • Organizing field surveys in order to enumerate, document, and serve the cultural heritage.
  • Conducting researches and studies according to the scientific curricula of the Arab heritage.
  • Linking the researches and the studies to the current events in order to take examples and lessons to be followed from heritage.
  • Preparing the distinguished researchers and experts who are able to perform organized work to preserve the cultural heritage.
  • Participating with the community who are the real foundations in what ensure the preservation of the cultural heritage.
  • Consolidating the scientific links and ties, and exchanging the expertise with the scientific foundations all over the world.
  • Interacting with the scientific experiments and the world expertise in the field of the cultural heritage.
  • Setting up programs and events that are going to improve the projects of cultural heritage.
  • Description of practical procedures and techniques used in different sections of cultural heritage.
  • Creation of innovative ideas inspired by heritage.
  • Academic qualification for the completion of master and doctoral thesis in one of the fields of cultural heritage, popular cultural and scientific branches




Official site:

The two-day conference features academics, researchers, and experts from GCC universities and relevant institutions and departments in the field of heritage and oral history, in addition to specialists in social sciences and history.

The conference aims to preserve the authentic heritage shared among GCC countries, and consolidate the assets and common efforts exerted in the protection and preservation of heritage, as well as enhance its ethical legacy. It will also highlight the efforts of Sheikh Zayed in the protection of heritage, as an essential component of national identity.



Under the direction and follow-up of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Rashid bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Chairman of the Fujairah Culture and Media Authority, “Memory of Fujairah” was launched and an agreement between His Highness and Oral History Expert Abeer Mohammed Bashrahil, Project Leader, was signed in December 2018.

The Fujairah Memory project is based on the collection and recording of tangible and intangible history exploring stories behind certain historical documents and other artifact. The collection serves to preserve history and legacy of predecessors and ancestral heritage. The project aims to create an archival platform in which oral narratives, documents, photographs and personal items gathered which will supply eyewitness accounts to the history as it was remembered and recorded from the mouths of senior citizens. The outcome of this project is promising given the direct interest and the unwavering support of Chairman.