Job in Dubai & UAE Ras Al Khaimah Pupils dig their History

Ras Al Khaimah Pupils dig their History:

RAK, UAE: Ras Al Khaimah’s Department of Antiquities and Museums and RAK Academy are collaborating on an exciting new project to raise awareness of the emirate’s heritage and encourage the next generation of archaeologists in Ras Al Khaimah. In an innovative new educational program, RAK Academy pupils have been learning the skills needed to become archaeologists as they spend a morning on the Jazirat Al Hamrah archaeological site.

The project restoration/conservation and revitalization of Jazirat al Hamra old town began in 2015 and is a joint project between the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development, and the Government of Ras Al Khaimah’s Department of Antiquities and Museums, and is consistent with efforts to preserve the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the UAE. It is led by the Emirate’s Director of Archaeology, Ahmad Hilal.

Through a guided tour,a simulated archaeological excavation, and the chance to build a wall using traditional building materials and methods, the students will learn about the archaeology of Ras al Khaimah, the different elements of traditional life at Jazirat Al Hamra and the traditional building materials and types of houses. The program is a joint venture between the Emirate’s Archaeology section, the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah (Department of Antiquities and Museums), and RAK Academy and is the result of nearly a year of preparations. It also marks the first project for the National Museum’s recently appointed Education Manager, Surbhi Bhambri.

Kate Ayres, Director of the National Museum, said, “Ahmad Hilal, the Director of Archaeology, and I began talks with RAK Academy early last year to develop a closer relationship between the school and the Department of Antiquities and Museums, but decided to wait until the appointment of an Education Manager who could really engage with the children. Since starting from scratch in January Surbhi has devised a really fun and informative session for the children. We have a plan derived from HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi’s vision, for the National Museum to be at the heart of the community, with a vibrant Education Department bringing the history of Ras Al Khaimah to life. This project is the first step in achieving this goal, and is intended to focus on knowledge transfer. It’s important that children learn to understand the significance of their heritage and culture.”

This program is unique in the UAE in that the students not only get the opportunity to visit an actual archaeological site which is in the process of being excavated and see the archaeology in action, but they can also take part and work alongside the archaeologists. The plan is that each year a different school year from RAK Academy will visit and the pupils will learn something new, eventually building up a full picture of the site and the various archaeological techniques used.

Miss Bhambri said, “the archaeological site at Jazirat Al Hamra is the only surviving complete traditional coastal town in the Gulf. It is known for its collection of old and abandoned houses, mosques, the fort and the souq. Initial feedback from the teachers and the pupils has been excellent and they are already booking for next term.”

Dating back to the 17th century, the town has more than 400 structures including around 150 traditional buildings, which represent different aspects of traditional life in the town, and make it the perfect place to study and learn the traditional architectural elements, features, building techniques and material. A professional team including 10 archaeologists, restoration experts, architects (specialists in traditional architecture),a materials expert, a structural engineer (with traditional structure expertise) and trained supervisors and craftsmen are working throughout the year to develop the town.

Ahmad Hilal commented, “this project is unique and is the biggest of its kind in the world, as it is covers the development of a master plan to revitalize the town, building recording and analyses (documentation), excavation and restoration/conservation. In the last two years we have set a complete scientific infrastructure to carry out the research, develop strategies and work methodologies following the international standards. Work at every step is carefully carried out and properly recorded. Traditional material has been studied and tested thoroughly and new mix has been designed dealing with the issues and problems of the structures and at the same time, keeping the traditional elements of the mix. The strategies and methodologies are constantly updated to coordinate between the different steps of research and produce the best results.”

Archaeologists first began working in Ras Al Khaimah, which has 7,000 years of human history, in 1968, and through this project they hope to inspire future generations of archaeologists. “Perhaps in the future,” wondered Kate Ayers,“one of these pupils will be heading the Department of Antiquities and museums inspired by their session today. That would be a wonderful thing.”

The children will be attending the sessions at Jazirat Al Hamra every day until the 9th May. via