Urban Treasures, Capital’s pride: DCT Abu Dhabi honours cultural markers - GulfToday

Urban Treasures, Capital’s pride: DCT Abu Dhabi honours cultural markers


Artifacts at the Abu Dhabi Pottery Establishment.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Before Abu Dhabi became the busy metropolitan city it is today, it fostered a community of homegrown, family-owned businesses such as cafes, restaurants, bakeries, sweet shops, textile and fabric stores, tailors, perfumeries, jewellers, pharmacies, photography studios and similar establishments. They have since been embedded into the social and cultural fabric of the capital city. In recognition of their contribution in the last 20 years, Abu Dhabi is honouring these establishments as Urban Treasures. The Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) honoured the recipients of this year’s Urban Treasures awards on June 6. During a ceremony held at the Cultural Foundation, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, presented the awards to 15 businesses selected from across the emirate for the distinction.

They included Abu Dhabi Pottery Establishment; Nasruddin Perfumes Shop; Persian Carpets & Antiques Exhibition; Salem Al Shueibi Jewellery; Al Ain Pharmacy; Al Ajayeb Bazar; Al Jazeera Studio & Stores; Al Mandoos; Rubou Zahla Trading Establishment; Ayoob Exhibition; Al Farah Restaurant; WOSTB Legal Translation; Al Qadi Pharmacy & Establishment; Al Areesh Restaurant and Cafeteria; and Paris Textiles.

Homa Vafaie-Farley of Abu Dhabi Pottery Establishment.

Al Mubarak said: “Our Urban Treasures initiative preserves and promotes Abu Dhabi’s unique cultural identity, and reflects the great emotional significance these 15 establishments have held for our community for over 20 years. They hold nostalgia for times past, while remaining anchors of the community to this day. These establishments have witnessed the capital’s growth and contributed to the identity and vitality of our neighbourhoods, strengthening the social and cultural fabric of the emirate.

“Through Urban Treasures, we aim to further raise the profiles of these establishments and ensure they thrive for generations to come. This initiative is in line with our strategy to preserve and promote Abu Dhabi’s unique cultural identity and share it with the world – while also celebrating it locally.” The Urban Treasures awards also aligns with DCT Abu Dhabi’s Modern Heritage Initiative, which celebrates and safeguards the emirate’s more recent past.  Nominations for Urban Treasures 2024 were opened to the public last year. They were then assessed and evaluated by a committee, which reviewed each establishment based on set criteria. Salem Al Shueibi Jewellery was established in the emirate of Abu Dhabi in 1985. It has made a name in the field of jewellery manufacturing and trading; the brand combines Emirati traditions with international designs and its creations are part of Emirati households and social occasions.

Salem Al Shueibi displays a product.

Al Mandoos is also a brand steeped in Emirati tradition. Launched in 1986, it has been upholding the heritage of Emirati footwear fashion through local craftsmanship, proudly made in the UAE. Nasruddin Perfumes Shop at Madinat Zayed Shopping Center is a renowned fragrance brand. It was established in 1989 as a single store in Abu Dhabi’s Old Souq. Over the years, it has grown, establishing several outlets throughout the city. The advent of an online platform has brought its authentic fragrances even closer to customers’ doorsteps. The perfumer boasts an impressive inventory, featuring approximately 2,000 distinct branded perfumes.

Mohammad Arif is the Managing Director of Nasruddin Perfumes.

Abu Dhabi Pottery Establishment was founded in 1994 and is a creative hub dedicated to the art of pottery. It is a mosaic of international and local students, both adults and children, who are keen to learn the craft of pottery. Al Ain Pharmacy, a leading pharmacy retail chain, was established in 1977 and has been a crucial part of the UAE’s healthcare sector for more than 40 years. With a network of over 50 healthcare and retail establishments across the UAE, it serves the needs of over 5,000 customers each day.Persian Carpets & Antiques Exhibition, established in 1989, specialises in the sale and repair of handmade carpets, particularly in Abu Dhabi. Rubou Zahla Trading Establishment was established in 1990 is recognised for its assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. Al Ajayeb Bazar, established in 1991, is a well-known retailer based in Al Ain. It provides a very wide range of sports products. Al Jazeera Studio & Stores, established in 1988, is a prominent luxury wedding and event photography and videography company based in Al Ain. Established in 1970, Ayoob Exhibition offers a diverse selection of products, ranging from baby essentials and accessories to perfumes, oud items, ladies’ dresses. Generations of shoppers have passed through its gates.

At the Al Jazeera Studio & Stores.

Al Farah Restaurant was started in 1998 with the aim of sharing the rich flavours of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. It has expanded to multiple locations, establishing a central kitchen. WOSTB Legal Translation, established in 1986, is a leading provider of commercial translation services in the region. Paris Textiles, founded in 1985, is a reputed business specialising in the sale of fabrics and textiles. Al Areesh Restaurant, founded in 1990 in Al Ain, is a renowned dining establishment celebrated for its authentic Lebanese cuisine. Al Qadi Pharmacy & Establishment, a part of Al Qadi Group of Companies, holds a distinguished place in Abu Dhabi emirate’s history: it was the first pharmacy set up in the UAE, way back in 1965. Comprehensive care in a safe and convenient environment with warmth and friendliness is an enduring promise that has been central to its success over the past 50+ years.These longstanding establishments have played a valuable role in shaping the vibrant urban culture of Abu Dhabi and contributing to the city’s economy. Today, these hidden gems are considered historically significant by the collective memory of the local community.


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