Founded in 1968 as the Center for Documentation & Research (CDR), it is one of the oldest archival repositories in the Arabian Gulf and is home to thousands of records about the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Arabian Gulf region in general. By the Federal Decree Number 7, 2008, the Center was transformed into the National Center for Documentation & Research and it became the National Archive of the UAE.
NCDR collects, documents, translates, and preserves primary and secondary source materials that foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the history of the UAE and the Gulf. To carry out its vision, mission and achieve its objectives, NCDR works on several fronts.
NCDR’s ever increasing archival holdings are collected from repositories around the world - American, British, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Ottoman, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, and other sources. These records cover a wide range of topics in a variety of different formats, the common thread being, each item sheds light on life in the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Gulf region.
In order to further enrich its holdings, NCDR collects a wide variety of indigenous sources ranging from oral and written histories to rare books and manuscripts and audio-visual materials like photographs, films and recordings. Rewards are offered to motivate members of the community to deliver valuable records in their possession related to the United Arab Emirates. These national treasures, painstakingly collected over the years, are preserved by using the latest technology and made accessible to researchers, scholars and the public.
Today, the NCDR is a national body and repository of records from all United Arab Emirates governmental entities and is working to develop its government records system. Each and every day, the NCDR adds more to its archival records collection as the mission of the NCDR was further expanded by Federal Decree Number 7 of 2008.
RESEARCH AND KNOWLEDGE SERVICES
As a leading research center, NCDR publishes numerous scholarly books in both Arabic and English. Some of NCDR’s most important publications are those which document the establishment and development of the Federation of the UAE. Other publications encompass various aspects of the history and culture of the Arabian Gulf. These include collections of rare photographs, individual memoirs, scholarly studies by foremost experts, as well as Arabic translations of German, French, and English books. Also included in NCDR’s list of publications are journals, conference proceedings, and multimedia resources.
NCDR’s Oral History section collects tangible and intangible heritage from indigenous sources to showcase UAE’s past history and heritage which are the cornerstones of the country’s national identity.
To create awareness of history at the national level, NCDR in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, sponsors educational competitions for secondary school students, and the winning essays are published jointly.
CONFERENCES, EXHIBITS, and WORKSHOPS
Fulfilling its role as a leading research and resource center, NCDR hosts and participates in numerous local, regional and international conferences, workshops, and exhibitions. It has been involved with the International Conference of the Round Table of Archives, Oral History Association and Unified Arab Catalogue conferences, Symposium of Arabic Records and Library Catalogues, to name but a few.
NCDR has established relationships with the leading international archival centers to expand its archives and resources. It is a member of the International Council on Archives (ICA), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the Secretariat General of the Documentation and Research Centers of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Furthermore, the International Council on Archives (ICA) and Xerox international have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NCDR. It also counts among its academic partners Zayed University, UC Berkeley, and the Higher Colleges of Technology, among others.
In view of its iconic status and multifarious achievements, NCDR has been recognized by UNESCO as a foremost Arab cultural institution.
The NCDR’s state-of-the-art facilities include a 700-person auditorium; a vast library; archival material from around the world; a 3-D theatre which takes visitors on a special voyage through the UAE’s history; an in-house printing facility; as well as exhibit space that features cutting-edge displays of the nation’s history and heritage.
Safeguarding historical documents for future generations is one of the most important responsibilities of a sovereign, enlightened state. Advancement in archiving is the ideal way for a nation to preserve its heritage through the concept of institutionalization. It also inspires patriotism, as archives preserve the memories and historical register of the nation.
The National Center for Documentation & Research in Abu Dhabi is a pioneer among documentation institutions, acquainting the public with the history, people, land and heritage of the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Peninsula. The Center has undertaken the responsibility of performing its fundamental obligations in researching and analyzing the sources of the nation's history.
The genuine concern and interest Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Late President of the UAE, expressed in the history of his country and his desire to provide the Emiratis with the tools to preserve their history and learn form the past experiences, was the basis for the establishment of the Center. The National Center for Documentation & Research has thus acquired copies of documents
from international archives pertaining specifically to the UAE and the Arabian Gulf. These Archives contain a wealth of historical materials that shed light on many aspects of life in the area dating back to the 16th century.
Because of the Center's importance, continuous efforts are being exerted under the leadership and guidance of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE,
and H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to keep it equipped with all that is required for its advancement and the modernization in order to efficiently perform its role. The Center has become a sanctuary for all seekers of knowledge.
I am confident that the Center will remain a pioneering institution, embracing all
efforts to expand our knowledge of history and culture. Accordingly all residents of this modern, secure society, under the guidance of its able leadership, will have the opportunity to benefit from its rich resources.
Abdulla El Reyes, Ph.D
National Center for Documentation & Research