News 2012

Museum projects as catalysts for social change and cross-cultural dialogue

​Public Lecture by Dr Ulrike Al Khamis exploring contemporary museum projects in the Arab-Persian Gulf Region

February 2, 2012

​On 2 February 2012, Dr Ulrike Al Khamis, former Co-Director of the Sharjah Museums in the UAE, delivered AKU-ISMC’S first 2012 public lecture. The talk, entitled ‘Catalysts for social change and cross-cultural dialogue? Contemporary museum projects in the Arab-Persian Gulf Region’, attracted a varied audience including those associated with museums and art collections internationally.

Dr Al Khamis started her lecture by explaining to the audience that museum projects in the United Arab Emirates cannot be compared to those in the 'Western' world. Leaders in non-Western contexts have only recently started to invest in culture, hiring mainly foreign experts for advice. In recent years there have been several ambitious projects, some of which unfortunately have not been realized; an example of this is the Khor Dubai Cultural District.

Dr Al Khamis gave examples of projects are expected to come to fruition, including the Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island, where a cultural centre is being developed.

As well, in cooperation with the Guggenheim Foundation, a Guggenheim Museum has been established, twelve times larger than the original museum and hosting collections from New York as well as newly formed local collections. The opening is scheduled for 2013.

Dr Al Khamis pointed out that there are several more impressive projects, such as the Shirzad Museum which was developed with advice from the British Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisations.

Dr Al Khamis concluded that while the collaboration between local and foreign experts is a linguistic and cultural challenge it also valuable in its promotion of cultural understanding and knowledge about Islamic Art.

Dr Ulrike Al Khamis is a visiting lecturer at AKU-ISMC and has worked as Co-Director and Sharjah Museums Department Advisor for the Islamic and Middle Eastern Art collections, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization from 2007-2010. She has also worked as a curator at the National Museums of Scotland and the Glasgow Museums.

Interesting links

Aga Khan Museum, Canada

Details for upcoming lectures can be found on the AKU-ISMC Events Portal.


Ms Anne Czambor
Professional Programmes Unit