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British-Emirati cultural affinity 'a marriage of true minds': Nahyan bin Mubarak

posted on 28/04/2016: 1967 views

In a speech to the British Business Group, BBG, at a dinner in Abu Dhabi last night, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, said that he counted the people of Great Britain to be amongst the best friends of the UAE, and that the relationship between the two nations is akin to a 'cultural affinity'.

Speaking at the event at Le Royal Meridien Hotel, which was also attended by British Ambassador Philip Parham, Sheikh Nahyan said that no matter how you interpret the term cultural affinity, and there are many ways, there can be no denying the strength, diversity and longevity of relations between the UAE and the UK, describing it as a relationship between cultures that is similar to a marriage, "Sometimes with some sort of legal status, sometimes with a spiritual or emotional status, as in Shakespeare's 'marriage of true minds'."

"Thus, the attraction akin to marriage that people of one culture have for some feature of another culture constitutes, at least this evening, my notion of cultural affinity. It has its uses. It reveals both the strengths and the potential weaknesses of the relations between Great Britain and the United Arab Emirates. Many, many thousands of British citizens have seen something attractive about the UAE. Pleased to be courted, we have welcomed you and your predecessors, and we look forward to sustaining those cultural affinities far into the future. To be sure, some marriages end on the rocks. When our wells run dry or when the price of oil drops to nothing, one element of cultural affinity will likely disappear. But, on the whole, our marriage is a model for the world to envy," he said.

Sheikh Nahyan went on to say that the relationship is symbiotic, and that while he hopes that the UAE expands its cultural affinity with Great Britain substantially beyond the UK's capital cities to gain a fuller appreciation of another multi-cultural nation at peace with itself and the world, then likewise, he hopes that more can be done to establish a rich cultural affinity with British citizens who live and work in the UAE.

"To that end," Sheikh Nahyan said, "We Emiratis will need to be less insular and more willing to establish relationships that extend beyond the workplace or the classroom. Already there are possible attractions in sports and the arts, for example. I think that the Arabic language potentially offers the greatest attraction. We have discovered cultural affinities with the British because of our facility, limited though it sometimes is, with the English language. It seems to me that a knowledge of Arabic would produce a similar effect among our British residents. That knowledge would inevitably encourage discussions of social, religious, philosophical, and literary issues and lead to the discovery of additional cultural affinities. I aim to embolden and support an expanded and strengthened system for helping you and others come to know the glory of our Arabic language and our cultural heritage."

"In the UAE, you will find a unique and successful model of peaceful and productive co-existence among people of diverse religions, cultures, nationalities, and backgrounds. We embrace the obligation to respect and understand the many different cultural and religious beliefs of the people living and working in our country. As a result, the United Arab Emirates has produced unparalleled economic growth, accompanied by social and political stability, with constantly broadening opportunities for our country's citizens and residents. In fact, we have become an integral part of the global culture, and our own Emirati culture has thrived as a result. We have become more aware of the true value of our own culture and far more understanding of the world in which we live.

Sheikh Nahyan concluded by saying, " I can confidently declare our strong resolve to multiply and strengthen British-Emirati cultural affinities because we already have so many. May our marriage of true minds forever endure so that we may, as we do tonight, celebrate our cultural affinities." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


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