Maey El Shoush | November 15, 2012
Dr Fatima Alsayegh, associate professor of History at UAE University, is calling for well-trained and impartial historians with a passion for accuracy so the country’s history can be told through a modern context. She was speaking during the 31st annual Sharjah International Book Fair, which ends Saturday.
“We are told that the history of the country is very new yet many of the oldest documents prove man lived here 7,000 years ago,” said Al Sayegh. “We will never reach the absolute truth, but this is different from what we were taught at school, that our history is only 100 years old. In the past, people failed to document things in black and white, a great part of our history has been an oral history.”
Much of that, she says, came from the British archive, “…so there is a dire need to look at these things again. I am not casting aspersions on the British or Orientalist documents, but ideally historians should be impartial.”
The launch of the Ruler of Sharjah H.H Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi’s PhD thesis, ‘The Myth of Arab Piracy on the Gulf Coast’, in Arabic during the book fair was “a good start to the process”.
“Reading this, makes me realize we are starting to write our own history,” Alsayegh says.
The thesis, first written in English in the 1980s, dispels the British theory that pirates ruled the Gulf coast and that their presence was necessary in order to provide protection.
“This region was labelled as the ‘Pirate Coast’ which was a major mistake,” she said. “Many of the documents about UAE’s history are in the Public Records Office in the UK. We need historians with a passion for research, and the patience to look for facts and details.”
For more information visit: www.sharjahbookfair.com