Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi (SUAD) Holds Panel Discussion in Cooperation with CEFAS research center, entitled ‘A taste of the Nation, Food, Heritage and Identity in the UAE’

Abu Dhabi – UAE, 23 February, 2020: Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi (SUAD) and CEFAS organise a panel discussion titled ‘A taste of the Nation, Food, Heritage and Identity in the UAE’ will be held at the campus on 26 February, 2020.

Three speakers- Dr Eloísa Martín, Associate Professor at the United Arab Emirates University and Associate Professor in Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Marzia Balzani, Social Anthropologist and Professor of Anthropology at NYUAD and Ayisha Hassan Khansaheb, Researcher at Qasr Al Hosn will moderate the discussion.

Dr. Eloisa will discuss how food choices are styled and sensitised in addition to illustrating why gastronomy has been transported from the elite kitchens to a global consumer society as a fashionable commodity. Dr. Eloisa added saying that the topic currently occupies a significant place in the media, being the subject of niche publications across print, television and digital platforms. The UAE is central to this globalized trend, with professional and government entities, as well as newspapers having expressed concern for the cultural erosion and the shifting of values which are predicted to be a direct result of sociocultural changes in Emirati lifestyles. Dr. Eloisa also will discuss how this challenge was confronted by the efforts of many institutions that have taken a leading role in establishing cuisine as culturally important on three levels; as a common ground of multicultural conviviality expressed through food festival and culinary activities open to the public, local food posing as a gateway to Emirati culture and values to tourists and residents, and as a celebrated heritage movement that requires preservation.

Ms. Balzani together with Ms. Khansaheb, will elaborate on the journey of Gahwa or Arabic coffee, and its evolution from being a pinnacle of Emirati hospitality to Emirati heritage. They will illuminate the intangible heritage associated with coffee, including its preparation, social context, and its position as an international symbol of ethnic identity. Recognised by UNESCO, gahwa has been elevated from an everyday occurrence to an event reserved for special occasions, museum performances and social history lessons.

The serving of Gahwa which has become an integral act of Emirati hospitality, requires management for it faces the threat of being reduced to an impoverished tradition that dilutes culture to routinized performances and hollow forms. The academics will also discuss the aspects of Gahwa-related heritage, such as its history, meaning, and contemporary uses that include digital applications in Abu Dhabi.

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