Sheikh Khalifa issues Abu Dhabi's cultural heritage law

A law on the protection, discovery, preservation, management and promotion of the emirate's cultural heritage and non-UAE physical cultural heritage was issued by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in his capacity as Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The law governs the mandate of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and the scope of its supervision over the emirate's cultural heritage, which includes increasing national awareness about the importance of the cultural heritage and promoting it by fostering the emirate's cultural identity.

The law also governs the preservation of distinctive customs and traditions of the local community, initiating measures to safeguard the emirate's cultural heritage, as well as granting permits for establishing museums.

The law set provisions for the ownership and acquisition of the physical cultural artefacts and regulations for transfer, export, loan or temporary shifting of these artefacts out of the emirate.

Measures to be taken in case of sudden archaeological discoveries and time-frame of reporting such findings to the competent authorities were also defined.

The law authorised the Abu Dhabi TCA to establish two records, one for tangible cultural heritage and another for intangible cultural heritage.

The Abu Dhabi TCA - in co-ordination with other educational institutions - will seek to infuse the intangible cultural heritage into the school curricula.

According to the law, it is strictly prohibited to perform specific acts without obtaining permission from the Abu Dhabi TCA.

These include transfer of ownership of the mobile and registered tangible cultural heritage, infrastructure activities in the cultural sites or districts around them, or conducting any industrial, commercial, agricultural, scientific or investment activities in these sites.

The law stipulates that archaeological excavation will be an exclusive act of the Abu Dhabi TCA which may grant a licence for excavation missions that work under its supervision.

Discoveries made by archaeologists will be the exclusive ownership of the emirate.

Crimes associated with cultural heritage may attract a penalty not more than two years in jail or a fine ranging between Dh500,000 and Dh10 million.