Sharjah Museums Authority co-organizes ‘So That You Might Know Each Other’ exhibition in Australia Sharjah Museums Authority co-organizes ‘So That You Might Know Each Other’ exhibition in Australia
    Exhibition is a major collaboration between SMA, Vatican Amina Mundi Museum and National Museum of Australia
    SMA contributes over 40 pieces of religious and cultural importance to show, taking place in Canberra until 22nd July, 2018

    The Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA) invited audiences in the Australian capital of Canberra to view pieces from its collection of Islamic artworks and important Emirati cultural artefacts, which are on display as part of the 'So That You Might Know Each Other: Faith and Culture in Islam’ exhibition.
    HE Sheikh Fahim al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, Sharjah, Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority,  Dr. Obaid Al Hairi Salem Al Ketbi, UAE Ambassador to Australia, and HE Brigadier General Tareq Albannay, Defence attache at the UAE Military Attache Office, attended the opening day of the exhibition at the National Museum of Australia (NMA). Also in attendance, representing the Vatican Museum and the Catholic Church in Australia,  were Fr Nicola Mapelli, Director of the Vatican Anima Mundi Museum, Archbishop Christopher Prowse, Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, the Rev Dr Patrick McInerney, Director, Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations,  the Rev Dr Stephen Hackett, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and Her Excellency Ms  Melissa Hitchman, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See. From the National Museum of Australia were the Director, Dr Mathew Trinca, Assistant Director, David Arnold and Senior Curator for the exhibition, Carol Cooper.
    Other distinguished guests included Professor Amin Saikal AM, Director of Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies, Australian National University, Canberra and Mr Ali Fahour, General Manager of the Islamic Museum of Australia, Melbourne.  A number of distinguished Australian  Diplomatic Corp members were at the exhibition opening. This list includes HE Mr Meshal Hamdan B Alrogi, Charge d’Affaires Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia; HE Mr Mirza Hajic, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovnia; HE Mr Mohamed Khairat, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt; HE, Mr Milad Raad, Ambassador, Lebanon; Her Excellency  Ms Sudha Devi KR Vasudevan, High Commissioner to Malaysia; HE Mr Nabil Lakhal Ambassador of Tunisia; HE Mr Karim Medrek, Ambassador of Morocco; Mrs Dhuha A Jasim, First Secretary, Embassy of the Republic of Iraq, and  Her Excellency Mrs Minda Calaguian-Cruz Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of the Philippines.
    The exhibit is a major collaboration between the SMA, the Vatican Anima Mundi Museum in Rome, Italy, and the NMA in Canberra and will run until 22nd July 2018. 
    Objects travelling from Sharjah include ethnographic material that represents Muslim culture from the UAE and the Middle East region including traditional Emirati costumes, as well a selection of important Islamic textiles and manuscripts. They are from the collections of the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, the Sharjah Heritage Museum, the Sharjah Maritime Museum, Bait Al Naboodah and Sharjah Calligraphy Museum.
    In total, the SMA and the Vatican Anima Mundi Museum have provided more than 100 pieces to illustrate the development of Islamic cultures from the Middle East, to Africa and India, China and Southeast Asia.
    During the opening of the 'So That You Might Know Each Other' exhibition, H.E. Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan bin Khalid Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of Sharjah's Department of Government Relations, delivered a speech on the importance of cultural relations and vision of tolerance in the United Arab Emirates. He explained through the speech the aim of Sharjah participating in the exhibition to promote tolerance, coexistence and acceptance of each other and respect for cultural diversity.
    H.E. Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan bin Khalid Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of Sharjah's Department of Government Relations, said: “The main tool of life is culture and there is no way to establish the values of tolerance and human openness without it. The culture became a lifestyle in UAE and the people realized the value of culture through tolerance and brotherhood, in accordance with the approach and values of the late founding father Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The culture is at the basis of its orientation and represents a great value in tolerance and love.
    “Sharjah Museums Authority plays a very important and pivotal role in the promotion of Sharjah and the strengthening of international relations, which depends on cultural diversity, and we are confident that this visit will pave the way for wider horizons of integration.”
    'So That You Might Know Each Other’, which has been inspired by a verse from the Holy Qur’an, invites visitors to learn more about the lives, religions and cultures of people across the world to create an atmosphere of respect and to encourage dialogue.
    The SMA’s participation in the exhibition follows the directives of H.H. Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to encourage cultural engagement and knowledge exchange between peoples all over the world through the celebration of art and heritage. 
    The exhibition was originally co-curated by SMA at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization in 2014 to mark Sharjah’s selection as the Capital of Islamic Culture. Visitors were able to see objects from the Vatican Anima Mundi Museum, many of which were being displayed to the public for the first time in hundreds of years.  
    The Vatican Anima Mundi, or ‘Soul of the World’, Museum contains important examples of ‘extra-European’ art and culture that were gifted to Pope Pius XI for the 1925 Universal Exposition, held in Rome.
    'So That You Might Know Each Other’ also features a selection of items that celebrate the important contributions made by Muslims to Australia’s history. These include bark paintings depicting trade between Aboriginal people in northern Australia and Muslim fisherman from southern Indonesia, initiated in the eighteenth century, and objects and drawings describing the culture of Muslim Cameleers from the nineteenth century. These men helped explore and open to trade, the Australian deserts. They made the first permanent Muslim settlements in Australia, and built the first mosques.
    Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, said: “Islamic civilization has reached far beyond its roots in the Middle East to touch people and cultures across the world. ‘So That You Might Know Each Other’ shows the diversity of Muslim societies from the MENA region to Southeast Asia and beyond.
    “This exhibition, which features the Sharjah Museums Authority’s largest ever loan of items, has been carefully curated to encourage dialogue, tolerance and respect between peoples by showing the common bonds that link us all and how cultures have become intertwined. 
    “‘So That You Might Know Each Other’, which is being supported by the UAE Embassy in Canberra, allows the Sharjah Museums Authority to reach a new, international audience and to continue its mission to share knowledge, art and culture.”
    Director of the Vatican Museums, Dr Barbara Jatta, said: “‘So That You Might Know Each Other’ puts the exquisite beauty and craftsmanship of Islamic art in the spotlight for all to see.
    “Visitors will be able to explore a remarkable selection of items, including pieces from the Vatican Anima Mundi’s collection that have been chosen to help start a conversation between peoples of different faiths and encourage a mutual appreciation and respect for each other’s culture and heritage.” 
    National Museum of Australia Director, Dr Mathew Trinca, said: “The items on show in this exhibition have been collected from all over the Islamic world, from North Africa, the Middle East, to Asia.
    “Each piece represents centuries of culture, craftsmanship, artistry and civilization.  The skills of Islamic artists are recognized the world over and we are delighted to have such wonderful examples, especially those loaned from the Sharjah Museums Authority, on display here in Australia.”

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