“We Remember” : Dubai's unforgettable exhibition

For the first time, a Holocaust memorial gallery opens its doors on the Persian Gulf. Opening in 2021 at the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in Dubai, the permanent exhibition "We Remember" reveals to the public the tragic advent of the greatest genocide of the 20th century, with the murder of 6,000,000 Jews.
The idea is to ensure that visitors understand..."

explains Ahmed Al Mansouri, founder of the museum.

Ahmed Al Mansoori, founder of the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum (photo: museum website)

To highlight the full atrocity of this period, the organizers were keen to flood the room with striking visual animations, images and texts.

This constructive approach encourages the public not to be content with a passive visit but, on the contrary, to plunge into the heart of the matter. Founded in 2013 from a private collection by Ahmed Al Mansoori, the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum unfolds the history of the Persian Gulf through its art and its interactions with different cultures and civilizations.

Passionate about history, this Emirati curator collects historical objects from the four corners of the Levant. He owns, among other things, a handwritten letter by Theodore Herzl, on display in his private Zionist Museum. "Jews have always played an important role in the Middle East (...) I can't identify with Zionism, but Herzl was the father of Zionism, he was a visionary, I look at him from a historical point of view, not a political one. It's a great honor for me to exhibit his letter in my museum", declares the founder.

Photograph taken from the VIP visitors' gallery, museum website


Commended by the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf in 2015 "for its contribution to the preservation of the Gulf's heritage, as well as for its ambition to connect future generations with their heritage", the museum sees itself as a place of unity, peace and Jewish-Arab solidarity in the Middle East.

Marzor, livre de prière de Worms en Allemagne. Autorisation d’Olga Fried

This ambition is also reflected in the We Remember exhibition, with its section dedicated to Arabs and Muslims who saved Jews during the Second World War. In particular, you can discover the first Arab to be posthumously awarded the Righteous Among the Nations medal by Yad Vashem. Mohamed Helmy, an Egyptian doctor, risked his life to protect a Jewish family in Berlin. "He who saves one life, saves the whole world" is a message of hope engraved on one of the museum's walls. According to Ahmed Al Mansouri, this saying is to be found in both the Koran and the Torah.

The Shoah soon to be taught region-wide ?

Beyond its strictly cultural framework, this exhibition will have had an unprecedented societal impact. The United Arab Emirates' education system has been updated: the Shoah is now being taught in all the country's schools. New curricula are being developed thanks to the joint efforts of the Institute for Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education - based in London and Tel Aviv - and the UAE Ministry of Education. A milestone for the country, but perhaps also for its neighbors. According to historian Robert Rosette, there is currently a turning point in the Arab-Muslim world: recognition of the Holocaust is at last beginning to take hold in regional mindsets. This transition can already be seen in Morocco, where the Shoah is beginning to be addressed more openly. In 2016, the French Embassy in Morocco and the Mémorial de la Shoah organized a training course on teaching the Shoah and genocides at the Lyautey secondary school in Casablanca.

"We remember" : this call to commemoration could well have a wider echo in space and time. From the museum to the classroom, we can hope that teaching about the Shoah will provide a basis for sharing and recognizing the culture of the Other.

Sources:


https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/afrique/egypte/mohamed-helmy-cet-egyptien-devenu-juste-pour-avoir-sauve-une- famille-juive_3059795.html https://www.lepoint.fr/monde/mohamed-helmy-premier-arabe-honore-comme-juste-30-10-2017-2168532_24.php
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