CULTURAL VALUE

Abu Dhabi 2016 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HH Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, on his newly assumed post and responsibilities and moving toward a knowledge-based economy.

HH Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan,
BIOGRAPHY
HE Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan received his education from the British Midfield School until the high secondary level. Afterwards, he joined Majdolin faculty at Oxford University. He was appointed Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in February 2006. Before this, he served in the position of Minister of Education during the period from 2004 to February of 2006. He also served the position of Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research from 1990 until 2004. He is also Chancellor of two of the UAE's three government-sponsored institutions of higher learning: United Arab Emirates University, established in 1976, and the Higher Colleges of Technology, established in 1988; he is also President of Zayed University, established in 1998. Meanwhile, His Excellency has also been the chairman of several ministerial committees, including the Ministerial Committee for Education and the National Committee for Workforce Planning.

How has the change in the ministry's name changed your responsibilities?

Having just recently been named the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development in the UAE, I have renewed my interest in the concept of knowledge and its relation to culture. Our cultures, whatever their distinctive characteristics, must create, produce, transfer, adapt, diffuse, and localize knowledge if they are to flourish. A flourishing culture reinforces its basic values by opening itself to the world of knowledge. It has been the good fortune of the UAE to be led by enlightened visionaries who have acted on that truth. A knowledge economy and a knowledge society were the primary goals of our nation's founder the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahayan, and they remain the fundamental goals of our President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, as we aim for the UAE to be a major regional hub in the global economy. The President's leadership team, headed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces, focuses intently on those goals. Our country consequently has become increasingly educated and evermore intellectually curious and adventurous. Our country has matured in the digital age and has capitalized on its opportunities. We have become more aware of the true value of our own culture and far more understanding of the world in which we live. The acquisition of knowledge demands awareness, understanding, interpretation, evaluation, and theorizing. Socrates went so far as to declare that knowledge and virtue are one. He argued that if people failed to live well, it was through ignorance of the virtues themselves. I daresay that we largely recognize wise minds for their reflectiveness and their judgment. The wise mind looks carefully at the rearview mirror while staying focused on the road ahead.

How will the further enhancement of a knowledge-based society generate a wider range of positive benefits?

It will be our wisdom that will create a knowledge economy and knowledge society that account for the well-being of all our citizens, not just the enrichment of corporate bottom-lines. Our wisdom will be the driver to recognize the moral imperative for improving the health and safety of our communities. It is a tool we can use to address critical environmental issues such as global climate change, waste management, recycling, potable water, and renewable energy. It will be our wisdom that will improve education so that all our citizens can contribute effectively to a knowledge-based economy. Through this medium we will preserve the strengths of our traditional cultures and strengthen our natural moral affinities with other cultures. It will allow us to accept reasonable risk as we advance scientific research and entrepreneurial innovation. It will be our wisdom that will help us to shape the future of our global economy and promote greater emphasis on ethical and transparent transactions and wider individual and institutional participation in all economic activities. And it will be our wisdom that will enable cooperation, creativity, understanding, and mutual support among the different elements of the global financial markets. Together we must reaffirm our conviction that we all live and work in an inter-dependent world. No individual, no institution, no vital element of a country can successfully work in isolation or reject knowledge, whatever its source.