Year of the French-Emirati Cultural Dialogue

The United Arab Emirates and France have built up closer and closer ties since the creation of the Federation in 1971. The Founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed, whose memory is honoured this year for the 100th anniversary of his birth, has continually sought, as all his French counterparts, to promote a relationship based on friendship and trust. This relationship is nurtured by a privileged strategic partnership, a close political and defence cooperation, strong economic bonds and flagship projects in the elds of culture and education.

This long-lasting and strong friendship between the authorities of our two countries was reafirmed on the occasion of the inauguration of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, on November 8th 2017, by the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, the Vice-President, Prime minister, Minister of Defence of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

This friendship is also the result of mutual understanding between the peoples of our two countries, as illustrated by many joint initiatives: the Louvre Abu Dhabi, first universal museum of the Arab world, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, an Emirati university delivering French degrees to students from various nationalities, INSEAD and ESMOD, leading French institutions settled in the UAE, as well as other French schools and universities which have partnered with prestigious Emirati institutions, notably in the elds of medicine, justice and arts.

The “Emirati-French Cultural Programme” dedicated to the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, marked the success of the last ten years of cultural cooperation. From March 2016 to March 2018, rich and varied events have highlighted the youth and know-how from our two countries: a concert of the Gustav Mahler youth orchestra, with original Emirati-French compositions, the creation of a theatre company with the “Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique”, an equestrian choreography performed by thirty horses from the Versailles equestrian Academy, created by Bartabas, in the heart of the Al Ain oasis, a pyrotechnics show imagined by Groupe F for the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and a contemporary art exhibition resulting from the encounter of UAE-based artists and historical French manufacturers. Youth, innovation, creativity, traditions and know-how have been highlighted and shared to bene t from our mutual comprehension and the great respect upon which the relationship between France and the United Arab Emirates is built.

This success had to carry on. We have therefore signed, on November 9th 2017, a new cooperation agreement that implements the “French-Emirati Cultural Dialogue”, in order to expand the scope of our exchanges and encounters, in France, and in the UAE throughout the whole country. Among all the common initiatives that will be held in 2018, we have decided to emphasize two topics, sometimes related and for which both France and the UAE have a lot to offer: arts and arti cial intelligence on the one hand and protecting endangered cultural heritage on the other hand. France and the UAE will also carry on their joint initiatives that led to the creation of ALIPH fund during the Abu Dhabi International Conference on the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Danger, so that the fund supports tangible initiatives.

Since a dialogue can only truly exist if we share the same languages, we have taken firm resolutions to promote both of our languages. The teaching of French will be reintroduced in Emirati public schools for the first time since 1988. We welcome this concrete achievement and are very grateful to the pilot-schools leading the way, with the support of French schools in the UAE. We also welcome the project of opening a learning center for Arabic language at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, along with other numerous initiatives to promote Arabic teaching in France, in schools and learning centers, supported both by French government authorities and cultural institutions such as the Arab World Institute (IMA).

This Cultural Dialogue, in parallel with the Year of Zayed, is the occasion to renew our long-lasting friendship through initiatives demonstrating the boundless energy of our creative communities and their willingness to use this force to achieve innovative projects. We would like to warmly thank all the actors, explorers, artists, sponsors and institutions taking part in the Cultural Dialogue for their invaluable contribution to the meeting of our two cultures.


H.E. Noura bint Mohammed AL KAABI,

Minister of Culture and
Knowledge Developement


H.E. Ludovic POUILLE,

Ambassador of France to the United Arab Emirates


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