It is my pleasure to present Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates, the most recent offering by the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy. For over thirty-five years, Meridian has employed culture to promote understanding between Americans and people around the world. Our exhibitions, cultural programs, and people-to-people exchanges build lasting relationships with international partners. All of our projects are based on close collaboration and teamwork.
Past Forward exemplifies our approach and represents the combined efforts of Meridian’s Cultural Diplomacy group, the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C., and partners around the UAE. This exhibition – the largest presentation of contemporary art from this dynamic country ever shown in the United States – will travel across America following its debut in our nation’s capital. The art selected for Past Forward offers insight into a nation that, while steeped in history, has a clear and exciting vision of its future.
This collection of over fifty paintings, photographs, sculptures, video installations, and other media by twenty-five Emirati artists – men and women representing different generations – provides American audiences with an intimate view of life in the UAE. It gives our two peoples a chance to meet one another, share ideas, and become friends. In Washington, D.C., and in each host community, we look forward to facilitating leadership exchanges, cultural connections, and most important, educational outreach to school children and teachers.
I am grateful to H.E. Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and his staff in Washington, D.C., for their involvement and support. Likewise, I wish to express my thanks to our partners in the UAE for their close collaboration. We envision Past Forward as the first of many shared undertakings between Meridian and the United Arab Emirates, endeavors that will bring Americans and Emiratis closer together and foster genuine understanding.