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Introduction To Oral History:

Oral history records and documents the history and intangible heritage of the United Arab Emirates through oral narratives and firsthand accounts stored in the memories of elderly people and witnesses to the times. Oral history monitors historical events and lifestyles in the past to preserve the material and moral characteristics of the UAE society for future generations by conducting audio and video interviews, which are subsequently classified and indexed to enrich the National Library and Archives' holdings.

Oral history objectives:

  • Document the narrators' oral memory, which constitutes a historical reference supported with their voices and expressions.
  • Write down and record the chronology of historical events as the narratives of those people are important in documenting the events that have not been discussed in foreign documents.
  • Enrich the holdings of the National Library and Archives, establish a database and preserve oral history interviews so that they can be used by researchers and scholars.
  • Bring forward historical materials and introduce youngsters with these materials along with the lifestyles and stages of development all over the UAE before and after the establishment of the Union.

Oral History Output:

  • Publishing the historical, cultural and heritage output in the form of publications, books and smart applications.
  • Presenting the narrator’s historical role as a witness to the times.
  • Supporting researchers in their investigations of documents and verifying them against the oral narratives of those who witnessed the events; since they are the memory and the history of the nation.
  • Promoting national identity, pride in the homeland's achievements and reinforcing the sense of loyalty and belonging.
  • Positively influencing family and social bonds.
  • Introducing the UAE values, principles, customs and traditions.



  • American Oral History Association
  • GCC.SOC. for History and Archeology
  • Moroccan Historians Association
  • Societe Egyptienne Des Etudes Historiques
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage UNESCO committee
  • Association for Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies(AGAPS)

Interview Subjects

Interview Subjects

The interview focuses on recording and documenting the biography of the narrator, then moves on to other topics, such as:

Genealogy and family tree:

  • Tribal genealogical documentation.
  • Clans and their branches.
  • UAE ruling families, in order to highlight family bonds and the sense of belonging to the nation.

Social Life:

  • Customs and traditions.
  • Means of entertainment and recreation.
  • Toiletries.
  • Fishing and hunting.
  • Raising livestock such as horses and camels.
  • Popular folk dishes.

Administrative and Political Life:

  • Local government and its role in public life.
  • The role of local tribal leaders, and the relationship between the people and local Rulers.

Economic Life:

  • Trade and Agriculture.
  • Handicrafts and artifacts.
  • Financial system such as currency types and the state financial resources.

Religious Life:

  • Mosques and their religious and social role.
  • Role of clergymen in society.

Cultural and Academic life:

  • Education.
  • Education centers and Katateeb (traditional education system).


  • Folk medicine techniques.
  • Popular folk remedies.
  • Astronomy.
  • Navigation.


  • Handicrafts.
  • Singing.
  • Music.

Traditional Architectural styles:

  • Building mosques.
  • Platforms and decorative designs.
  • Types of water transportation systems such as "falags".
  • Shipbuilding industry

Questions about the UAE's annual initiatives.

Information on the history of certain places in the UAE and associated stories and memories of people who inhabited them is also collected

Interview Procedures

Interview Procedures

  • Approaching different local social groups, in order to find narrators.
  • Preparing questions.
  • Approaching the narrator and briefing him/her on the oral history project and the subject matter of the interview.
  • Obtaining initial approval for audio recording or photographing.
  • Sending the narrator a sample of the specialized questions for his/her information upon request.
  • Setting the date and place of the interview.
  • Preparing the necessary equipment (recording device, camera, release form, memory card, and fingerprint tray).
  • Conducting the interview.
  • Obtaining he narrator's signature on the release form.
  • Sending the narrator an appreciation letter.
  • Sending the narrator the interview transcription upon request.
  • Analyzing the interview based on place, time, region, events, etc.
  • Providing the narrator with a copy of the interview after redrafting it, and converting the text from colloquial to classic Arabic, and with the interview recording upon request (acknowledgement receipt).


Oral History and Genealogical Studies Unit

Phone numbers
  • 024183530
  • 024183525
  • 024183521
  • 024183522
  • 024183550
Do you have any questions?
If you have any query, visit Frequently Asked Questions
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