Earlier generations’ intimate connection to the environment—land, sea, and sky—was essential to survival through changing seasons and nomadic journeys. Their knowledge continues to grow through stories, skills, art forms, and livelihoods that map the distinctive cultural landscapes of the UAE’s natural and urban zones.
How has the natural world shaped UAE culture and ways of human coexistence? How can people draw on cultural knowledge of the environment to meet our climate present and future?
At the Festival, participants demonstrated traditions linked to places and ecosystems, from the old work songs of pearl divers to ancient irrigation technology to beekeeping. Visitors learned about human-animal partnerships through falconry. In creative workshops and activities for families, visitors learned about the conservation of key species like dugongs and turtles as well as ecosystems like mangrove forests.
In addition to the local building traditions of coral-stone and areesh, or woven palm, an interactive installation introduced visitors to the modern built environment and a growing interest in adaptive reuse. As street art enlivens UAE cityscapes, we joined in the creation of an original mural that reflects the patterns and textures of everyday life in urban neighborhoods.