Dubai becomes ICOM flag-bearer to host International Council of Museums General Conference 2025

Rashad Bukhash, representing ICOM UAE and Hala Badri, director general of Dubai Culture, receiving the ICOM Flag in Prague to host of the 27th International Council of Museums (ICOM) General Conference 2025 in Dubai.
Image Credit: DMO

Dubai: Dubai has officially begun its journey as the host of the 27th International Council of Museums (ICOM) General Conference 2025 after formally receiving the flag from Prague, the host city of the 2022 edition of the conference. A high-level UAE delegation, headed by Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and member of the Dubai Council, attended ICOM 2022 in Prague.

Sheikha Latifa said: “It is an incredibly historic moment for Dubai as our city has become the first city in the MENASA region to host ICOM. Winning the bid to host ICOM would not have been possible without the support of our wise leadership and the work done by all cultural entities and our partners in Dubai and the UAE over the years to develop and enrich our cultural offerings as an emirate and as a nation.

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“Dubai has made remarkable cultural achievements in a relatively short period, and we will continue to work towards positioning our city at the forefront of global cultural hubs. We look forward to hosting this impactful cultural gathering of leading international museum professionals. The global platform will serve as an opportunity to discuss the future of museums and explore best practices and approaches for protecting and promoting tangible and intangible cultural heritage,” Sheikha Latifa added.

Hala Badri, director general of Dubai Culture, speaking at the ICOM flag handing over ceremony in Prague.
Image Credit: DMO

Flag Relay Ceremony

The ICOM flag, a symbolic baton entrusted to the organising committee of the next ICOM General Conference, was formally passed on to Dubai during the ICOM General Conference Flag Relay Ceremony held at the National Museum in Prague.

The upcoming 27th edition of the conference, scheduled to be held in Dubai in 2025 under the theme ‘The Future of Museums in Rapidly Changing Communities’, makes Dubai the first city in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA) region to host the prestigious global conference. Dubai’s hosting of the largest international gathering for museums in 2025 is set to further strengthen the city’s leading position as a hub for creativity and innovation across various fields.

Designed by ICOM Prague officials and members of the Czech community, the ICOM flag incorporates elements from the country’s traditional culture and crafts. The flag was handed over to Rashad Bukhash, representing ICOM UAE, and then to Hala Badri, director general of Dubai Culture, who received it on behalf of ICOM Dubai 2025.

Knowledge exchange, cultural dialogue

During her speech, and upon receiving the ICOM flag, Badri said: “Standing here representing Dubai is a distinct honour and a privilege, and I want to thank the International Council of Museums and its members for entrusting Dubai to carry the torch of the upcoming ICOM General Conference in 2025. The UAE attaches great importance to museums as vital centres for knowledge exchange and cultural dialogue, and we believe culture should be accessible to everyone, everywhere. Museums are important cultural networks that connect community members with their history and heritage, enabling them to understand current issues and cultural trends.”

Badri added: “In Dubai, we have invested in the cultural and museum sector over the past few decades, leading to the formation of iconic cultural institutions, such as the Etihad Museum, a historical tribute to the Union of the Emirates; the Museum of the Future, where people of all ages come to see, touch, and shape our shared future; and Al Shindagha Museum, Dubai’s largest heritage museum, set within a traditional urban fabric of the old city which is rooted in Emirati Culture. We are also witnessing the emergence of a new generation of cultural enthusiasts in our region, which contributes to preserving our heritage and further developing our creative economy. We promise to present a worthwhile experience for culture, museums professionals and delegates from around the world.”

UAE has 170 museums

During her speech at the closing of the 37th Ordinary ICOM General Assembly held on the last day of the conference, Maryam Mudhaffar Ahli, project manager in the Museums Department at Dubai Culture, gave an overview of Dubai’s plans to host the next edition of ICOM in 2025. “By hosting the ICOM General Conference in 2025, we will not just be creating an event that addresses issues of change, recovery, inclusivity, transparency and sustainability for the museum sector, but we will also embody them on a broader scale,” she said.

Ahli added: “The UAE has around 55 government museums and about 115 private museums, including cultural icons, such as the Etihad Museum, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Qasr Al Hosn, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the upcoming Guggenheim Museum. Bringing the ICOM General Conference to Dubai also represents its introduction to the MENASA region since the establishment of ICOM in 1946, presenting a unique opportunity for museum professionals and experts to finally meet in this region.”