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Bahrain, the Expo and me...

By Akram Miknas

I’m so delighted to know that Bahrain has started organising its pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai. I am really excited and looking forward to visiting this pavilion next year, walking around its 2,000-metre and looking at Bahrain’s cultural and civilisational potential. I am excited at the prospect of exploring the unique design of the pavilion that reflects the structural, natural, and urban characteristics of Bahrain, as well as the diverse and intersecting threads of Bahraini society and its integration with the urban fabric of the Island.

In fact, I have an important reason to visit the Expo. This is revealed for the first time here in this article. I will take the Dubai Animation Museum from its current location on Shaikh Zayed Road in Dubai to the Expo, having received a special offer from the organisers of this exhibition.

The Dubai Animation Museum houses some 300 of my most important personal belongings related to the history of the animation industry, which I have collected during my many trips to many countries for more than 30 years. The idea of the museum came out of my desire to share my collection with the public, hoping that it will contribute to inspiring and educating the public by reviewing an important part of the history of our intellectual and cultural humanity.

I have been working in advertising, planning, and photography since the 1960s. It was the beginning of my relationship with the world of images and film. I started collecting antiques since I first began to visit Germany. The first piece I bought was a projector based on moving images with light. This piece I found in the early 1980s and it led me to search extensively for this type of machine. I came to the conclusion that man got to make a documentary by playing the picture back. Instead of language, anecdotes were narrated through drawings on the walls.

Actually I have many collectibles like classic watches and cars, however gathering the museum’s exhibits was the most difficult because most of these machines are made of paper and glass. Taking into account that the First and Second World Wars, wars in Europe, and the Arab world, destroyed many of these machines, some of which were found in unusable condition, broken or burned.

Exhibits for visitors to the Dubai Animation Museum range from old cinema cameras to animated films, cartoon movies, “Ferja” boxes in all sizes, display devices of various types, “reels” of Charlie Chaplin’s animated films, paper clips and art pieces with amazing graphics, camera games, projectors and children’s cinema posters, etc.

The oldest piece in the museum dates back to 1750. It is a display box that provides reflections of images at different times, day and night, through lighting control, which was then a candle or oil lighting.

This museum is unique; it shows the progress and development of the visual entertainment sector from its inception right up to the advent of modern-day cinema. The museum is also one of the few museums in the world that focuses on the history of motion pictures. It is also the only one of its kind in the entire Middle East, and the museum has won the Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Award for Art Supporters.

I know that the Expo is not a place to view only the past. Dubai has chosen the theme of ‘Connecting Minds and Making the Future’ but I also consider that recognising the past and understanding its significance and the evolution of its characters and tools is very important when thinking about the future.

So I strongly believe that the Dubai Animation Museum will be a quality addition to Expo 2020. The exhibition comprises three interconnected and specialised showcases: Content Exhibition, Dubai International Electronic Game Show, and Dubai International Cartoon and Licensing Exhibition.

When Dubai founded this museum, I aspired to contribute to the enrichment of the artistic and cultural movement in the UAE. Today, through Expo, I aspire to enrich the art movement in the region and the world. Expo 2020 expects nearly 25 million visitors over the six months from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021, where 70 per cent of visitors are expected to be from outside the UAE. Allow me to extend this invitation to all Bahrainis, especially friends, family and colleagues to visit the pavilion of the Dubai Animation Museum, which will warmly welcome them.

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