What’s the importance of the heritage sites found on our banknotes and how important is it for our generation to integrate that knowledge in the educational system.
The Jumeirah and Salem Al Mutawa Mosques or the Al Fahidi Fort are seen a few times a day on average, by any person who lives in the United Arab Emirates, yet they are not recognized as such. The previously mentioned sites (and more) are on the UAE’s banknotes, however, there is no educational effort that is done during millennials’ school years. So how come the greatest heritage sites selected among all other sites to be presented on the money we use daily, have little to none information given to the public?
By remembering the late father, His Highness Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, God have mercy on his soul, who once said: “A nation without a past is a nation without a present or a future[i].” Also, in a previous lecture titled “The spirit of the Union” that was given by H.H. Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum[ii], he stated to the attendees while explaining a story of UAE’s heritage: “Don’t you know your own history?” It can be concluded that visionary leaders saw that transferring knowledge about the heritage of generation X (previous generation) to generation Y (current generation) has always been a pillar of the cultural Emirati educational system.
However, there can be a few forgotten things to learn about the UAE that generation X did not include in Y’s educational books. In recent history, one of the many aspects of how a country can show how proud it is of its own heritage is through what their residents get or go to. Therefore, it may not be a bad idea to include what a country is proud of on its own money. For example, the U.S. and Germany (previously) have included political leaders, scientists, and historical sites on their currency. Also, they have school lectures and lessons on these politicians, scientists, and historical sites. As a result, their generation Y grew up knowing who their notable politicians and scientists are such as Benjamin Franklin and Carl Gauss. Also, they studied where these sites are and why they are important to them, like the Lincoln Memorial. In addition, when money comes in the form of banknotes and is broken down into smaller units, most likely, to coins, then there will be commemorative coins for a historical figure or an event.
Furthermore, in UAE, there is no educational effort to show the importance of these sites on its banknotes. Hence, when one is saying: “I don’t know where this is?” should not come as a shock when the official website of the Central Bank of UAE[iii] does not recognize Salem Al Mutawa’s mosque and refers to it as: “Landscape – Northern Emirates”, as shown in figure 1; Or the Jumeirah Mosque and refers to it as: “A Mosque in Dubai”, as shown in figure 2. In addition, there is no information on the website about the Fils, the smaller unit of the Dirhams. Therefore, even commemorative coins are not found in the same official website. Also, the official website contains the same explanation in English and Arabic, with the similarity of neglecting the importance of historical perspective.
Moreover, there are no records of any important educational lectures in schools or field trips showing the importance of these heritage sites, which are on UAE’s own money. As the new educational strategy is being implemented in 2016/2017, will there be any pinpoints for these historical sites in school field trips? Or at least lecturing students about the stories behind them?
In conclusion, with the use of common sense and logic, if generation Y were not taught about these sites in school, then most of them will not know these sites today. To show proof of this theory, one can pull out a 5 Dirhams banknote from their wallet, then ask the person next to them to identify the sites – what is their answer?
[i] Shaikh Zayed in quotes. (2005). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/general/shaikh-zayed-in-quotes-1.306268
[iii] Currency Gallery. (2016, September 25). Retrieved September 25, 2016 <http://www.centralbank.ae/en/index.php?option=com_jumi&fileid=8&Itemid=59&>