Overview > About the UAE National Archives

The UAE National Archives


Sheikh Zayed, Father of the Nation and first President of the United Arab Emirates understood the value of archives instinctively. He established the Center for Documentation and Research in 1968, three years before the Union in 1971. This was the forerunner of the National Archives and it was the first active cultural institution of the new UAE. His vision for the future of the nation was deeply rooted in a strong sense of tradition and faith in the potential of people. He valued people over resources and sought with health care and education to unleash that potential in building the future.

He commented “He who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present and future, for it is from the past that we learn”.

The National Archives has developed as a modern institution with its mandate defined by legislation in 2008 and a unique building opened during the ICA Round Table on Archives in 2005. The Archives capacity has now been substantially extended with the opening of a preservation center close to Abu Dhabi. The Archives’ responsibility for government records includes all levels of government and government owned entities. In documenting the Emirates, the Archives acquires documents in all media from both public and private sources and has undertaken extensive oral history interviews with people from all walks of life. The Archives has supplemented local sources by copying relevant records in European archives. A major selection of records from The National Archives (UK) is now available online with Arabic translation provided.

The National Archives has developed a close relationship with the education system in the UAE and seeks to integrate the use of original documentation in the classroom. The Archives also has a significant presence at heritage festivals and special events. Photographs from the Archives’ collections are seen in shopping malls, airports and subway stations. The National Archives is the ‘Memory of the Nation’ and through both its acquisitions and its active outreach programs it aims to ensure that the memory encompasses all of Emirati society, growing systematically, carefully preserved and available as an active presence in our national life.

Upon directives of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the National Archives was established in 1968 under the name of “Documents and Research Bureau”, and was affiliated with Al Diwan Al Amiri (Ruler’s Court). Its objectives were defined as collecting documents and information relating to the history and culture of the Arabian Peninsula in general and the United Arab Emirates in particular, from primary sources in Arab and foreign countries. It has been entrusted with the documentation and translation of these documents. In 1972, its name was changed to the Center for Documentation & Research (CDR).

Several Government bodies have administered the National Archives
since its inception:
  • Al Diwan Al Amiri of Abu Dhabi (1968-1971).
  • Ministry of Presidential Affairs in Abu Dhabi (1971 to 1975).
  • The UAE President’s Diwan in Abu Dhabi (1975-1978).
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1978-1983).
  • Cultural Foundation (1983-1999).
  • The UAE President’s Diwan in Abu Dhabi (2000-2004).
  • Ministry of Presidential Affairs (2004 to date).

Federal Law No. (7) for 2008 was issued to establish the National Center for Documentation & Research (NCDR) and then Federal Law
No. (1) for 2014 was issued to change the name of “National Center for Documentation & Research (NCDR)” To “National Archives”.

The National Archives: The Oldest and Richest Archive relating to the Arabian Gulf region
In just over fifty years, the National Archives has achieved a pioneer status as the first of its kind in the Middle East and the sixth in the world, due to its adoption of the latest technologies available to accomplish its mission. It is one of the oldest cultural institutions in the United Arab Emirates and the largest documentation organization in the Arabian Gulf region. In addition to its role in documentation and archiving, the National Archives provides intellectuals with a variety of publications that explore both authentic cultural and contemporary issues in history and heritage.
The National Archives collects valuable historical material relating to the United Arab Emirates in particular and the Arabian Gulf states in general. It also documents, indexes and translates the material collected, based on which it publishes specialized historical research. Moreover, it hosts and organizes local, regional and international conferences and symposiums, in addition to holding related exhibitions both locally and abroad…..