Abu Dhabi: Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Presidential Court, the organizing committee of ICA Congress Abu Dhabi 2023 unveiled the itinerary for the forthcoming edition of this prestigious event, scheduled to be held from October 9 to October 13, 2023 at ADNEC. This announcement was made during a media briefing conducted at the National Library and Archive headquarters in Abu Dhabi on September 25, 2023.

H.E Dr. Abdullah Al Raisi, Chairman of the Higher Organizing Committee of the ICA Congress - Abu Dhabi 2023 and Cultural Advisor, UAE Presidential Court, thanked the sponsors and partners of this event, acknowledging their pivotal contribution to the remarkable success of this edition, which is the largest in the history of the Congress. The Emirates News Agency (WAM) is serving as the official media partner for the event, while the Abu Dhabi Police and the Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau have assumed the role of official supporters of the Congress. FamilySearch International is the titanium sponsor, with Melara Middle East and Metrofile are platinum sponsors of the event. Additionally, EXMP, Xerox, and Artefactual Systems Inc. are the golden partners, while NVS Soft, Zeutschel GmbH, and Iron Mountain are valued silver partners of the event.

Al Raisi affirmed that the organizing committee has successfully concluded its preparations to host the ICA Abu Dhabi 2023 Congress, including welcoming participants and orchestrating a diverse range of events and activities to accompany the event. These include seminars, lectures, and workshops aimed at fostering the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and methodologies in various aspects of archival operations. Additionally, the ICA Congress Hackathon, awards, and grants will be significant components of the event.

Al Raisi expressed his deep sense of pride in hosting this prominent global event within the UAE, underscoring how it epitomizes the nation's unwavering commitment to preserving cultural heritage and fortifying the archive sector. “This commitment is exemplified by the UAE's proactive adoption of cutting-edge international technologies and best practices in archiving, as well as the cultivation of specialized expertise in this field,” he said.

Furthermore, he extended an invitation to UAE institutions to register and actively participate in the workshops offered as part of the ICA Congress Abu Dhabi 2023's program. “These workshops serve as invaluable platforms for the exchange of knowledge, the exploration of innovative technologies to advance archiving, preservation, and documentation methods, and the enhancement of their long-term sustainability,” he said, adding such participation underscores the UAE's leading role in this pivotal domain.

“The archive sector is experiencing significant growth, driven by expectations of the corporate information archiving market expanding from USD 7.43 billion in 2023 to USD 12.87 billion by 2028, with an impressive CAGR of 11.60 per cent during this period. The ICA Congress Abu Dhabi 2023 is set to offer a diverse range of activities, including seminars and lectures covering various aspects of archives and cultural heritage. These events serve as platforms for knowledge exchange and the enhancement of expertise within the archive field. We look forward to hosting the ICA Hackathon, which will open doors for participation of high schools and universities in the UAE. We are also pleased to announce that prizes worth USD 20,000 will be awarded to the winning team from universities and USD 10,000 to the winning team from high schools. We are certain that these events will strengthen international cooperation and progress in the archive sector.

Additionally, we are proud to unveil the “ICA Congress Bursary Program”, aiming to offer 300 travel grants to Abu Dhabi, ensuring a broader and more inclusive participation scope for individuals and institutions. This comprehensive program will cover expenses such as travel tickets, accommodation, transportation, and entry visa fees. This edition of the congress stands as a testament to our pride, boasting record-breaking numbers in terms of paper submissions, participating exhibitors, and widespread engagement. It truly marks the largest and most significant congress edition in history, underscoring the global interest in this field's importance within modern societies,” Al Raisi said.

The current edition of the ICA Congress Abu Dhabi 2023 is being held under the slogan ‘Enriching Knowledge Societies’, as it will discuss the transformative potential of providing information and access to it in modern societies. The 19th edition will focus on five axes: ‘Peace and Tolerance’; ‘Emerging Technologies - Electronic Records and Solutions’; ‘Trust and Evidence’; ‘Access and Memories’; and ‘Sustainable Knowledge and the Sustainable Planet... Archives and Climate Change’. The climate change axis coincides with the UAE’s hosting of the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), which is one of the most prominent events on the international climate action agenda.

The ICA Congress Abu Dhabi 2023 is expected to witness the attendance of over 5000 participants from over 135 countries represented in Congress, in addition to more than 60 exhibitors. The event will provide a leading platform for communication and exploring horizons of cooperation among participants from all over the world. It holds special significance this year, given the escalating investments in archival collection management, digital record preservation, and public programming within the Middle East region.

His Excellency Abdullah Majid Al Ali, Director General of the National Library and Archives, emphasized the significance of the National Library and Archives in safeguarding documentary, historical, and cognitive materials, as well as facilitating their accessibility. He also highlighted the congress's pivotal role in uniting experts, specialists, and stakeholders in the archiving domain, fostering a dynamic atmosphere for collaboration, knowledge exchange, and the evolution of archival practices through the application of innovative technologies.

His Excellency said: “The National Library and Archives plays a pivotal role in preserving the UAE's cultural heritage, by collecting and maintaining documentary and archival materials, promoting cultural awareness, and facilitating access to knowledge and historical materials for the public. The main objective of the National Library and Archives is to record the history and culture of the UAE by preserving documents, manuscripts, photographs, films, and other artifacts that depict the nation's rich heritage. Hosting this significant archival event in the UAE demonstrates the country's unwavering commitment to cultural heritage preservation and its recognition of the vital knowledge-sharing role of archives. This initiative is in line with the UAE's ongoing efforts to explore innovative technologies and approaches, contributing to the development of a more sustainable future not only for the archival sector but also for various other domains.”

The UAE is the first country in the Middle East to host this flagship global event. This event's selection of Abu Dhabi as its host city underscores the nation's unwavering dedication to the preservation of cultural heritage and the vital role archives play in ensuring access to valuable information. The National Library and Archives, in particular, stands at the forefront of safeguarding the cultural heritage, while the ICA Congress serves as a platform to elevate the significance of archives on an international scale, fostering global cooperation and facilitating cultural exchange.

During the 2023 session, the Council will organise several events, including the “ICA Hackathon”, which includes schools and universities in the UAE. The competition will award US $20,000 to the winning university team and US $10,000 to the winning high school team. Hackathon participants, both from universities and schools, will gain access to previously unpublished archival materials possessing immense potential for researchers and historians. These materials, in their current state, remain inaccessible and indecipherable, risking their loss of value for future generations. The hackathon teams will face the challenge of transforming this ‘pile of data’ into an invaluable and usable resource for the future generations to come.

Abdullah Abdulkarim, Acting Executive Director of the Editorial Department at Emirates News Agency (WAM) expresses satisfaction regarding the media partnership between the Emirates News Agency and the ICA Council - Abu Dhabi 2023. This collaboration aligns with WAM's media mission to highlight worldwide conferences and significant events hosted by the UAE, under the guidance of the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the country.

On this occasion, the Acting Executive Director of WAM commended the UAE's hosting of this important international event, which provides an important platform for strengthening international cooperation and highlighting the importance of communication and cooperation in archiving and documentation, nationally and globally. He noted that the ICA Congress - Abu Dhabi 2023, themed ‘Enriching Knowledge Societies’ and held in Abu Dhabi under the generous patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, from October 9 to 13, reaffirms the well-established position of the UAE in organizing and hosting international events and conferences covering all areas of life.

Abdulkarim explained that the Congress's focus on peace and tolerance reinforces the UAE's global mission of building bridges of understanding, supporting dialogue among diverse cultures, and enshrining the values of tolerance, coexistence, and respect for others. He also commended the great efforts of the National Library and Archives in preserving the country's memory by documenting all its achievements made under the directives of the wise leadership behind which its loyal people stand.

Abdulkarim concluded by expressing confidence in the success of the ICA Congress, being an inspiring platform for all participants and a global event that builds archive-related cooperation between stakeholders around the world. He also highlighted the past successes achieved by the National Library and Archives, during its hosting of other global events, positioning it as the ideal choice to host this prestigious international gathering.

Mubarak Al Shamsi, Director of the Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau, said: “Hosting the ICA Congress is an important addition that enriches Abu Dhabi's event calendar, further solidifying its reputation as a favorable destination for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions. This achievement also highlights Abu Dhabi's proficiency in organizing and hosting major events in line with the highest global benchmarks. By engaging in strategic collaboration with the National Library and Archives, we reaffirm our dedication to fostering mutually beneficial partnerships aimed at promoting the growth and advancement of Abu Dhabi's tourism sector while showcasing its exceptional offerings.”

The International Council on Archives (ICA) was founded in 1948 and is an organization that promotes the preservation and use of archives around the world. The Council collaborates with UNESCO, the Blue Shield organisation, and other international non-governmental organizations to provide training courses, develop standards, and raise public awareness about the importance of records and archives. The Council addresses important issues, such as the permanent preservation of complex digital records, the techniques required to make accurate records more widely available for educational purposes, and the legal standards and requirements governing preservation.