The National Archives held a press conference yesterday at Emirates Palace to officially launch the Watheq initiative. Presiding over the launch was HE Dr Abdullah Al Rayes, Director General of the National Archives. Also present was HE Ibrahim Bin Karam – CEO of Emirates Post; and Abdulraheem Al Bateeh – Executive Director of Communication & Government Relations at Abu Dhabi Media.
HE Al Rayes explained: “Watheq is a national initiative launched under the generous guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan – Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the National Archives. It is aimed primarily at Emirati families, as the cornerstone of preserving the heritage of UAE society.”
He added: “The campaign empowers people to create their personal archives and preserve historical documents, records, artifacts and other precious possessions that are a pivotal reservoir of information about life within UAE society. Therefore we must safeguard these valuables to make them accessible to the public, while educating people about the numerous intellectual, cultural and historical benefits of our archives. All this is rooted in a deep, accurate and reliable source of knowledge about the old Emirati and Gulf society.”
HE Al Rayes went on to point out that Watheq represents a national collaboration in which the entire society takes collective responsibility for preserving the memories of its homeland. The National Archives collects, archives and preserves these valuables in accordance with the highest international scientific standards, under the supervision of renowned experts who oversee the initiative’s progress for the benefit of the nation.
According to Al Rayes: “Maintaining historical records is the over-riding responsibility of national archives authorities all over the world. In the UAE, our nation’s wise leadership has established and protected national archives services under Federal Law No. 7 of 2008. The government sends valuable historical documents to the National Archives, and all citizens are duty-bound to safeguard any historical material of national significance to the National Archives repository.”
Elaborating on this process, Al Rayes explained that anyone who presents copies of historically significant material to the National Archives will be compensated in accordance with the law, adding: “The National Archives has provided the public with several options to preserve material, such as a USB device. Our team of experienced specialists will help the public in the restoration and maintenance of documents to protect them from damage.”
Most of these documents range from official records, academic certificates, property and business records, book manuscripts, family photos and other material that has been passed on over the generations and cherished by the family, as a part of national history.
Archiving documents and historical artifacts
Al Rayes stressed that the national significance of this material makes it imperative to preserve it from damage or loss – which would constitute historical extinction. The National Archives will distribute special preservation boxes – which are free – to families in cooperation with its strategic partner, the Emirates Post Group. The group will provide these boxes through 119 distribution centers nationwide.
250,000 boxes will be distributed in successive phases. The boxes are designed according to the highest international standards in archiving. They are easy to open and close, storage-friendly and resistant to moisture and other external factors. Historical letters, photos, videos, memoranda, newspapers, books, marriage certificates, birth certificates and any other historical documentation can be stored in these boxes.
Abu Dhabi Media: Media Partner
Abdulraheem Bateeh: Executive Director of Communication & Government Relations at Abu Dhabi Media – one of the Middle East’s fastest growing media organizations – reiterated the company’s commitment to its partnership with the National Archives, which leads the restoration and preservation of the historical gems of the Arabian Peninsula.
He stated: “It is crucial to not only record and preserve the memories of our nation, but also to consciously relive and learn from the lessons of history. This initiative requires our collective efforts, and we must fulfill the massive responsibility entrusted to us by our beautiful homeland.”
Al Bateeh stressed that Abu Dhabi Media will harness all media efforts through various channels to raise awareness of the UAE’s history and national identity. Preserving this historical material strengthens the values of good citizenship, inspiring future generations to reap the fruits of our forefathers’ labor as part of the Emirati vision championed by the government.
Emirates Post: Key supporter in national initiatives
HE Ibrahim Bin Karam: CEO of Emirates Post – a leader in postal and non-postal services – affirmed that the group is always keen to support national campaigns that are in the public interest, adding:
“Watheq is a national duty and the true embodiment of loyalty and patriotism in the UAE. Our nation has a long history of civilization and glory that has given rise to our modern progress and prosperity. Watheq is the nucleus for documenting the UAE’s cultural heritage, as a bridge between our glorious past and our future. It will serve UAE society by highlighting our diverse wealth of literary, political or economic heritage.”
Bin Karam concluded by reiterating that citizens will be able to get their special preservation boxes from 119 Emirates Post centers nationwide.
National Archives: The exclusive authorized and comprehensive collection of UAE archives
The National Archives of the United Arab Emirates is the only authorized entity that collects all forms of national records in accordance with Federal Law No. 7 of 2008, issued by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President – may God protect him.