Sheikha Hussah honored for promoting Islamic heritage

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‘Award for Kuwait, people at DAI’

Sheikha Hussah Al-Sabah being presented with the award

WASHINGTON, Nov 16, (KUNA): Director General of Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah (DAI) Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah was honored with the Middle East Institute’s (MEI) Issam M. Fares Award for Excellence for promoting Islamic art and heritage and advancing education and cultural dialogue. Sheikha Hussah, who is a renowned cultural educator, lifelong learner and art connoisseur was honored in appreciation of DAI’s contribution to the cultural scene in the Middle East, which is home to one of the world’s largest and most diverse collection of art from Islamic lands.

Speaking to KUNA, President of the MEI Wendy Chamberlin said that the Issam Fares Award for Excellence is given to someone from the region “who has made major a contribution to peoples of the region”. She affirmed “we could not think of anyone who is more deserving of this award than Sheikha Hussah for her work in preserving the culture, the heritage, the art, in particular the Islamic art of the region. This is something that we are very mindful of and concerned about at the MEI.”

“We fear that those mafia types and terrorists who loot the art and heritage from the region are stealing a part of the Middle East so we are working to stop that and we deeply respect the work Sheikha Hussah does in this regard and have a great admiration for her,” she remarked. For his part, Nijad Fares, whose father created the award, told KUNA “we are very honored to have Sheikha Hussah be the awardee. The work she has done is historic and the collection she has is one of the best collections ever.” “I am glad to say in Houston we have had an exhibit from her on loan for the past few years and it has been very special thing. We are thrilled to present her with the Award,” he added. He noted “the Award is endowed by my father and he cares deeply about the excellence in the Middle East, about the public service and improving and bettering our Middle East.”

In his remarks presenting the Award, Fares said that Sheikha Hussah has worked for over four decades “to make the arts and heritage of Islamic societies available to people around the world as a tool for dialogue and greater understanding”. He added “she has also made clear. Through her work in Kuwait and collaborations with institutions around the world, that having windows into one another’s cultures is crucial for building understanding and respect between people.”

“As a curator and as a museum-goer, Sheikha Hussah encourages us to listen for the “dialogue between the objects.” If we look and listen as she suggests, we can recognize out common humanity and celebrate it,” Fares remarked.

Meanwhile, Sheikha Hussah told KUNA “this Award means a lot not just because it is for my person but it means more than that. It is for Kuwait and the fabulous people at DAI who deserve to be acknowledged.” Sheikha Hussah reiterated in remarks receiving the Award that the Award “is a tribute to the hard work of a fabulous DAI team in Kuwait. I am pleased to accept it on their behalf.” She added as a mother “I wanted to ensure that my children would appreciate all the world has to offer.

To accomplish that, I had to make sure they experienced what I call the three Es: education, enlightenment and entertainment.” She added in 1983, with the founding of the DAI, “we had to decide what we wanted for the organization. And, in a broad reality what we wanted to accomplish for the people of Kuwait residents and visitors … we wanted the same thing: to provide multi-cultural education, enlightenment and entertainment. These became the three pillars of the DAI.” “I have grandchildren now and when I think about the future of the Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, I think of their grandchildren. I want them to see our facilities as an extension of a playground; as a familiar place that’s enriching and fun. I want them to come and learn about their own culture and different cultures,” she remarked. Sheikha Hussah noted “I wish for my grandchildren’s grandchildren the same thing I wanted for my children and their children: to come to the Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah to be educated, enlightened and entertained.”

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