It was a small gathering of people who came with passion and emotion for the nation. The Talk Show, “Lest We Forget – Structures of Memory in the UAE” was organised by the curator and research team of The National Pavilion of the UAE for the 14th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale, discussing the upcoming exhibition that presents a retrospective of the architectural history of the UAE from 1914-2014, with an emphasis on modern heritage buildings.
Those who attended were of different age groups. Some as young as in the 20s and some others in their late 60s. The age difference made no difference to their emotional feelings towards the country they lived in.
The UAE grew steadily and strongly during these 100 years. During the process, all missed the transformation from the olden to modern times during which several changes were made within and outside cities and villages.
The once famous Toyota Crowns, Carinas and Cressidas gave way to new models. The fixed rate taxis gave way to metered taxis. Many traditional souqs gave way to modern markets.
The conventional camel race within the boundaries of once harmoniously spent joint family home and time was there to cherish. Some recollected with emotion how they, as little children, assisted then in the surveys that formed the basis of the modern developments.
All the prominent architectural structures of the emirates were remembered. The changes, however, were felt more deeply and emotionally on a major architectural structure of the country, that was once rated among the top ten fountains that existed in the world.
Volcano Fountain — all those who remembered it, said with one word, we would love to see it back. Little girls, who once played around it, shared fond memories of their childhood. Their thoughts and voice were unique in their wish to see it back in Abu Dhabi.
I am confident the hard work by the curatorial team of the UAE National Pavilion in Venice Biennale, that will open on June 5, will not fail in bringing the fond memories alive. It will be a great moment for the visionary leaders of the UAE.
Short Take – Gulf Today, 17th May 2014
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