Reclaiming Histories and the Virtual Museum: A Proposal to Preserve Al Jazeera Al Hamra

By Seth Thompson.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Al Jazeera Al Hamra, a former coastal village in southern Ras Al Khaimah, which was abandoned at the time of the formation of the United Arab Emirates in the late 1960s and early 1970s, is considered one of the last traditional towns in the country. Once an active fishing and pearl diving community, Al Jazeera Al Hamra consists of a fort (hisn), several mosques, a market (souq) and over 100 houses including a wind tower home—some of which are constructed of coral and gypsum. As the buildings continue to decay due to a dire lack of attention, not only does the architecture need to be documented and mapped, but also the stories and traditions of the people who once lived there needs to be recorded.
Creating a Web-based virtual museum, which documents both the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Al Jazeera Al Hamra can provide a cohesive physical and social record of a traditional fishing and pearling village for future generations after the buildings and the people who had inhabited the town are gone. This paper examines the notion of the virtual museum in relation to the preservation of Al Jazeera Al Hamra’s cultural heritage.

Keywords: Virtual Museum, Web 2.0, Cultural Heritage, Al Jazeera Al Hamra, United Arab Emirates

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.127-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.410MB).

Seth Thompson

Assistant Professor of Design, College of Architecture, Art and Design, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Seth Thompson is a media artist and educator involved in documenting and interpreting art, design and culture through print and online presentations. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Design at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. In addition, he has written on the arts for such magazines as Afterimage, 2A, Bidoun and Dialogue. Thompson’s documentaries, Evolving Traditions: Artists Working in New Media and Outside the Box: New Cinematic Experiences have aired on such United States-based television stations as PBS 45 & 49, Northeast, Ohio; KDOL Channel 18, Oakland, California; and DUTV, Philadelphia, PA; as well as Triangle Television, Auckland, New Zealand. Thompson holds a BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Colorado, an MA in Visual Arts Administration from New York University and an MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College, which are all located in the United States.

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