We have strategically fostered relationships with major international museums to bring their collections to Sharjah but also work to display our own extensive and diverse collections to the UAE community.
The most recent example of this can be seen in the ‘So That You Might Know Each Other: Faith and Culture in Islam’ exhibition, which ran successfully from April to July at the National Museum of Australia (NMA) in Canberra.
A major collaboration with the Vatican Anima Mundi Museum in Rome, Italy, and the NMA, ‘So That You Might Know Each Other’ was the first time that we had loaned pieces overseas on such a large scale, with 40 unique objects that represent Muslim culture from the UAE and the region, including traditional Emirati costumes and important Islamic textiles and manuscripts, shipped to the Australian capital.
The development of the SAWA Museum Academy in Sharjah is another great example of our ongoing commitment to international partnerships.
In 2015, we partnered alongside the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, the University of Applied Sciences (HTW Berlin) and were supported by the Staaliche Museen Berlin - Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz in establishing a cross-cultural summer academy to bring together international students of museum studies and young professionals working in museums. The course took place over two stages, starting in Sharjah and ending in Berlin. ‘Sawa’ means ‘together’ in Arabic.
The second intake of SAWA Museum Academy students arrived in Sharjah in September 2017. Ten young professionals from the UAE and the Arab region, including Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine, and nine from Germany travelled to Sharjah to take part in a range of studies including museum management and museology while also learning from each other’s experience and expertise. In May this year, the group travelled to Berlin for the second stage of the course.
Inviting students, museums and organisations from overseas to take part in exhibits and cultural events in Sharjah is just one way we engage with the community. The SMA occupies a special place in UAE society and we pride ourselves on being able to interact with people of all ages, nationalities and abilities.
As part of our mission to make our institutions an essential part of people’s lives, we have engaged in an ongoing process of making all of the SMA’s buildings, sites and community activities fully accessible to all members of society.
For instance, we recently launched our ‘The Outstanding Guide in Sign Language’ program. The first of its kind in the Gulf region, our Arabic sign language tours are led by guides who have a range of hearing impairments. We also provided training to our guides on how to best assist special needs visitors.
In 2015 we showed our commitment to ensuring our services are available to all by signing an agreement with the Sharjah City of Humanitarian Services to provide greater involvement for children with disabilities at our museums.
As well as expertly catering to the needs of all our visitors, our people-focused principals also extend to caring for our own team of loyal staff.
Providing a supportive working environment that allows each member of our team to learn new skills and develop their careers is of the utmost importance to us.
In 2017, the ‘Reyadah’ annual leadership programme was launched to nurture and boost the talents of our staff. The one-year course has proved popular with team members working across all departments as it gives them the opportunity to grow and develop their professional lives.
The tireless work carried out by each member of our team - from sharing knowledge with the world’s best museums to inviting artists and historians to the UAE, making our venues accessible to every visitor and ensuring all of our staff are happy and fulfilled in their careers - perfectly demonstrates the unique and highly valued position the SMA holds in the UAE community.