The UAE has officially inaugurated the Digital Archaeology Exhibition, “The Spirit in the Stone”, at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City. The pioneering initiative saw the Dubai Future Foundation, DFF, partner up with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations and the Institute of Digital Archaeology at the University of Oxford.
The project seeks to preserve the cultural heritage and archaeological sites of the region, especially those threatened with destruction or vandalism, by documenting them and then replicating them using 3D-printing technology. At the inauguration event, the foundation unveiled a newly created replica of the rare Statue of Athena, using 3D technology, which joins the replica of Palmyra’s historic Arch of Triumph, the gateway to the ancient Syrian city which was destroyed by Daesh terrorists.
Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, and DFF’s Deputy Managing Director, said, “The UAE has always called for preserving the cultural heritage of nations and peoples, firmly believing that a region’s future is closely connected to saving its history and civilisation. The UAE’s joint efforts with leading global government entities and academies to replicate the archaeological treasures of the Arab world reflects our government’s commitment to preserving history as an inspiration for future generations, and a solid foundation upon which we can build a better future for our region.”
“Our Arab and Islamic civilisation is facing the greatest threat in its history with deliberate attempts to erase its glorious past and achievements, and it is our duty to preserve it,” Al Olama added. “We chose the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria as a starting point for us and we are working to recreate its treasures that were lost, looted or destroyed. It is one of the most beautiful ancient cities in the Middle East, boasting a long and rich history as a corridor for both Eastern and Western cultures. This ambitious digital project revives Palmyra’s historical role and reminds the world that great civilizations do not die.”
Al Olama attended the inauguration ceremony of the Digital Archaeology Exhibition alongside Saud Al Shamsi, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UAE Mission to the United Nations, Miroslav Lajcak, President of the UN General Assembly, Maria Luiza Viotti, Chef de Cabinet to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and Sebastiano Cardi, President of the Security Council for the month of November 2017 and Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN.
“The Digital Archaeology Exhibition reflects the UAE’s commitment to building global partnerships that work to preserve the history and civilisation of peoples around the world,” said Saud Al Shamsi. “The Emirates has already recreated the historic gateway to Palmyra, and today, we present a new masterpiece, all the while pushing for new reconstruction and restoration projects. This reiterates the UAE’s message and dedication to the greater good of humanity as a whole. The UAE leadership seeks to strengthen its cooperation with leading international institutions to work on projects that benefit the whole of humanity and provide creative and productive environments for future generations.”
Roger Michel, IDA Founder and Executive Director, said, “As the pre-eminent global symbol of international cooperation indeed, itself an iconic monument to peace, the United Nations is the perfect place to unveil our latest collaboration with the Dubai Future Foundation, a reconstruction of Palmyra’s famous Statue of Athena.”
“For thousands of years, Athena was synonymous with reason, refuge and the rule of law all of the same values on which that historic institution was built. Like the Triumphal Arch before it, which has travelled the world and been visited by more than six million people, destroyed by extremists, embodies the international community’s commitment to reversing the ravages of intolerance and ignorance. We are proud to gather with world leaders and our colleagues at the Dubai Future Foundation to celebrate humanity’s commitment to that noble aspiration,” he concluded.