Celebrating 40 years of cultural exchange between Norway and the UAE. The exhibition “Norway-UAE: +40 years of Culture” tells the story of the wooden houses amongst skyscrapers and minarets in the metropolis.
The Norwegian Seamen’s Center was established in Dubai over 40 years ago and quickly became a facilitator for social, professional and cultural exchanges. Established in 1976, it was among the first churches in the region. It was built in the desert with wood from Norway, but is today a part of the modern Dubai, a meeting point between the East and the West.
“We depend on support from local authorities when establishing in new locations. This was the case in Dubai as Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum made the project possible and inaugurated the Center in 1976” says Lena Geving, manager of the Seamen’s Center in Dubai.
Ever since, the collaboration has flourished between both countries and the Seamen’s Center continued to be an important place for Norwegians in the region. Among its various activities, the Center hosts special occasions and programs for the two cultures to meet by which Emiratis get a taste of what Norway has to offer: waffles, traditional food and 17th of May Constitution day celebrations. It is an emblem of tolerance, inclusion and shared valued that has spanned over 40 years.
“Norway-UAE: +40 years of Culture”
The exhibition took place at MESH in Oslo from the 12th-26th of November and was hosted by the UAE Embassy in Oslo and the Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy (OPCD). The exhibition showcased cultural and social ties between Norway and UAE through photography, videography, archival material and art pieces. Today, the UAE is Norway’s largest trading partner in the Gulf and among Norwegians’ favourite destinations.
The exhibition was inaugurated by the UAE Embassy in Oslo and OPCD, during which Birgitte Bentzrød from the Seamen’s Center introduced their work and told stories from her time serving as foreign manager in Asia and Australia, and recalled her visits to the Seamen’s Center in Dubai.
Among the guests were the Ambassadors of the UAE, Egypt and Morocco, as well as diplomats, Norwegian business representatives, journalists and families of the Norwegian-Emirati profiles featured in the exhibition.
Seminar on Urban Development and Architecture
In connection to the exhibition, the UAE Embassy in Oslo and OPCD hosted a seminar on architecture and urban development on the 14th of November at MESH. The discussion between Rashid Bin Shabib, Cultural Advisor to Minister of State at OPCD and Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, founder of Snøhetta, one of Norway’s largest and most renowned architectural companies, explored the urban development of both Oslo and Dubai.
Despite the differences between both cities, the shaped identities of Oslo and Dubai are comparable in their experimentation and fast development. The talk was followed by questions from the audience, which varied to include members of the architecture, construction and property development industries as well as governmental departments and institutions for research and education.