British Council Celebrates 75 Years of Cultural Relations Globally

Published December 20th, 2009 - 11:20 GMT

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2009, the British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. British Council works in over 100 countries worldwide to build engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people in the areas of arts, education, English, science, sport, and governance.

2009 also marks British Council’s 40th year of cultural relations in the UAE, with the British Council now operating from three dedicated offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah.

“We are very proud of the fact that the British Council has been around for all of 75 years now, and indeed to have been working in the UAE for over 40 years since before the birth of the Federation.  We do hope that over that time we have been able to enhance understanding between cultures and to open doors for people in both the UAE and the UK in terms of their personal development and their capacity to contribute to a harmonious world,” said Paul Sellers, UAE Country Director, British Council.

Each year British Council engages with over 50 million people in the UK and around the world who are looking for creative ideas and skills, experience and partnerships to help them achieve their goals.  Activity in the Middle East is delivered from centres in 13 cities in 8 countries; Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. 

The work of the British Council is centred on three programme areas; intercultural dialogue, the UK creative and knowledge economy, and climate change.  Projects include Connecting Classrooms, Global Exchange, Cultural Leadership International, International Young Entrepreneurs, Education Promotion, English Language Teaching, UK qualifications and assessment, and International Climate Champions.

In addition, British Council also contributes to large UAE-based events including Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature, and ArtDubai.

British Council’s successes for the past twelve months include Emirati design leader Rami Farook winning International Young Design Entrepreneur, the opening of new state-of-the-art offices in Dubai, and the launch of the large-scale photography exhibition at Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization.

In a celebration of local design talent, Emirati Rami Farook was this year named as the International Young Design Entrepreneur (IYDE) in an awards ceremony hosted in London, UK. Farook, the first winner in this category to hail from the UAE, was awarded the YCE trophy and a prize fund of £5,000 to be invested in a design initiative that will further help to develop cultural relations between the UAE and the UK.

International Young Design Entrepreneur is one of a range of International Young Creative Entrepreneur (IYCE) awards, designed by the British Council to celebrate the achievements of young entrepreneurs across the creative industries, and make a significant contribution to their ability to access international markets. IYCE includes recognition schemes for entrepreneurship in fashion, communications, screen, performing arts, music, interactive, visual arts, and publishing.

This autumn, British Council unveiled a state-of-the-art centre at its Bur Dubai site, designed to provide educational opportunities, enhance cultural relations, and promote greater mutual understanding between the UK and the UAE. The redevelopment project, unveiled in a ceremony by His Royal Highness, The Duke of York, is part of British Council’s strategy to meet the evolving needs and aspirations of the community, providing world-class facilities in line with the vision of Dubai.

This month, British Council, in partnership with Sharjah Museums Department, brought to the UAE its major photography project, My Father’s House: the architecture of cultural heritage, to stimulate debate about the role and influence buildings have in shaping a nation’s identity. 

In the new year, British Council will organise the Education UK Exhibition - EDUKEX – which aims to showcase the UK's unique blend of tradition and innovation in education by bringing more than 40 UK institutions from a range of sectors to the UAE to meet both prospective students and decision makers.  The exhibition is the largest UK-focused education event in the Middle East and each year raises the awareness of the unrivalled quality of academic education in the UK.     

“British Council is overwhelmed by the support that we receive from their Highnesses the Rulers of the Emirates, and the interest shown in our work and activity from across the spectrum of the population.  May the bonds between the UAE and the UK, and all the nations around the globe, grow ever stronger in the coming years,” concluded Sellers.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary, British Council yesterday hosted celebratory events at the Dubai offices with representatives and guests from the local community joining in the festivities.


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