Over the past decade, the world has changed exponentially. From advances in technology to changes in our broader global social interactions as a society, we have moved in leaps and bounds.
Of course, it is worth noting that some countries have come further than others. For example, The United Arabic Emirates has spent the last ten years learning to delicately balance culture and modernity to create a nation that’s envied around the world.
Specifically, there have been significant advances in the cultural and economic development of Ras Al Khaimah. Ras Al Khaimah, translated as ‘top of the tent’, is the northern-most emirate of the UAE. It has long been known for its breath-taking mountains, pristine beaches and fascinating history, which dates back to the Bronze Age.
However, in more recent years, there has also been a boom in tourism, culture, infrastructure and the economy. This is largely due to His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi’s commitment to advancement, which he illustrated when he founded The Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research in 2009. The foundation is considered to be a not-for-profit, organisation that identifies as ‘quasi-governmental’.
The Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research is concerned with generating high quality research around social, political, cultural and economic issues facing the emirate. This research is then applied to policy making to ensure that Ras Al Khaimah remains a leader on the global stage.
Here a just a few initiatives the foundation is responsible for:
1) Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival
The Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival was first established in March 2013 and is known as the Foundation’s key event. Held annually, this not-for-profit event is an opportunity for both local and international creators to showcase their work, including traditional art, photography and film. As of 2019, the festival has taken place in the Al Jazirah Al Hamra Heritage Village (known sometimes as the ‘ghost town’), which serves as a fitting backdrop for this significant cultural event. Other features of the event include film screenings and art workshops that are open to the public.
2) The Al Qasimi Foundation’s Studio & Gallery
In another show of commitment to the art and culture of Ras Al Khaimah, the Foundation opened an impressive studio that is designed to engage and inspire local artists. The studio prides itself upon eliciting community participation and starting authentic dialogue. It does this through exhibitions, workshops and artist residencies.
3) Film Grants
To further the global understanding and appreciation of the UAE, The Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research also supports the film industry. One or more grants of up to 25000 AED (roughly $6800) are awarded annually to budding filmmakers who are producing works related to the UAE or Gulf region. With documentaries taking preference, the winning films are then screened at the aforementioned Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival.
4) Improvements in Education
Beyond the arts, the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research demonstrates a strong interest in professional learning and development in the education sector. The Foundation has orchestrated a number of professional development programs, for teachers in both public and private schools, which aim to identify and solve issues of student engagement and learning. The programs include courses, webinars and even an international teacher exchange program.
5) Community Improvement Programs
The Foundation does not limit its support to the schooling sector. It also proudly provides several other programs to a diverse cohort across the RAK community. For example, the Ras Al Khaimah Prison Program. This program supports inmates in learning and developing new skills for their eventual return to the community. They are given access to educational courses and a library to encourage self-paced study. Along with English, Arabic, ICT, Arts, First Aid, Mental Health and many others, the program also allows both inmates and corrections officers to undertaken professional development courses. Feedback is constantly solicited so courses can improve.
From the above, we can begin to see the significant and far-reaching impact that The Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research has had on Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural, social and economic output. It’s clear that the method of combining sound research with listening to the voices of the community has had a positive impact for not only the government, but also the local and global community, making RAK an increasingly popular place to live and visit.