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Sharjah Museums’ chief Manal Ataya highlights digital strategy at Women Power Summit

Published: Updated:

During a recent online session at the Women Power Summit’s Digital Festival, the largest digital women Power event in the MENA region, the Director-General of Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA) shared her insights on the digital transformation of museums to adapt to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Titled ‘Digitizing Arts and Culture: Adapting to a Pandemic,’ the session was moderated by international presenter Sally Mousa, it brought together Manal Ataya, the DG of SMA, and Saudi national Mona Al Abdullah, founder of 369 Hub art gallery in Jeddah.

Ataya began her remarks during the discussion by highlighting how museums managed to turn the pandemic-related restrictions into an opportunity to promote their collections and offerings online and move smoothly into the era of the digital world, while rethinking museum designs to attract more curious and eager visitors once reopened.



She highlighted that the authority’s education department and lT team were highly engaged in the planning and launching of various online programs, workshops and webinars after Sharjah museums were closed for the public in March this year.

SMA launched monthly programs in English and Arabic covering a wide range of topics, including arts, science and history. “We were impressed to see hundreds of people of all ages, locally and internationally, attending our virtual events,” Ataya said.

The strong and diverse online presence of SMA saw a number of unique exhibitions including Aida Muluneh’s ‘Homebound: A Journey in Photography,’ and Barjeel Art Foundation’s ‘A Century in Flux – Chapter II,’ made virtual.

SMA also launched a virtual tour for Sharjah Art Museum’s permanent gallery, which includes nearly 100 paintings by famous Emirati and Arab artists.

Over 100 artifacts from the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization’s collections are also featured on the Museum with No Frontiers website.

“Providing accessibility to all members of community lies at the heart of SMA’s outreach strategy. This prompted us to revise and strengthen our existing digital presence. Expanding our digital offerings resulted in a surge of visitors to our museums after reopening,” Ataya said.

“People have been intrigued by what we offer online. This successful digital experience has encouraged many people, who had never been to our museums, to visit them for the first time, marking a successful outcome of our digital footprint,” she added.

In an effort to encourage young talents, SMA had launched its ‘Museums for Equality: Diversity in Times of Adversity”, which featured artworks that were inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic

The Women Digital Festival held on December 6 and 7, saw the participation of high-profile regional speakers and women leaders from various field including businesswomen, entrepreneurs, media personalities and creative talents such as CNBC Anchor Hadley Gamble; Dr. Layla Faisal Alhalwachi; writer, actor and filmmaker, Fatima Al Banawi; athlete and adventurer, Raha Moharrak; and Hebah Fisher, founder and CEO of Kerning Cultures.