UAE Archives directors visit Israel’s National Library for first time ever

Among the fields of collaboration agreed to in the 2020 Abraham Accords, the two institutions are working to preserve historical memory and cultural heritage.

 Wednesday's meeting between the directors of Israel's National Library and the UAE's National Archives in Jerusalem, Israel. (photo credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)
Wednesday's meeting between the directors of Israel's National Library and the UAE's National Archives in Jerusalem, Israel.
(photo credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)

The UAE’s National Archives directors visited the National Library of Israel – the first visit by a member of the UAE’s National Archives – on Wednesday, where the National Library of Israel shared rare artifacts recording the life of Persian Gulf inhabitants in the early-20th century.

The National Library of Israel shared photographs, letters and documents from the Hermann Burchhart archives (1857 - 1909). Burchhart was a German Jewish researcher and photographer who traveled and documented Middle Eastern countries in the early twentieth century.

The archive includes an extraordinary record of the daily lives of the inhabitants of the Gulf region, which was then under the control of the Ottoman Empire. The rare collection also contains a historical travel diary mentioning Sheikh Zayed – who was the great-grandfather of the founder of the United Arab Emirates, Zayed bin Sultan. The directors of the National Archives of the Emirates have requested a copy of this collection.

Among the fields of collaboration agreed to in the 2020 Abraham Accords, the two institutions are working to preserve historical memory and cultural heritage, with an emphasis on the digitization of important archives and manuscripts. Further collaborations in the field, such as staff training and tours/seminars, were also announced by the UAE Archives and the National Library of Israel.

 The Israel National Library's manuscript shared with the UAE National Archives director's, which outlines early-20th century society in the Persian Gulf. (credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL) The Israel National Library's manuscript shared with the UAE National Archives director's, which outlines early-20th century society in the Persian Gulf. (credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)

"Every year hundreds of thousands of researchers from the Middle East use our digital collections including rare manuscripts, historical journals and other materials,” said Shai Nitzan, Rector of the National Library of Israel. "Institutions preserve and make accessible the cultural heritage of Islam and the Middle East to members of all religions."