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Manal Ataya is a museum professional with 20 years of senior level experience & expertise in museum development, cultural heritage management and cultural diplomacy. She became the founding Deputy Director of Sharjah Museums Authority (established by the HH Ruler of Sharjah in 2006) for 2 years before being promoted to the Director General in 2008, overseeing a team of over 700 staff working in Sharjah’s network of 16 museums. The museums include dedicated collections of modern and contemporary Arab art, Islamic Art, Gulf heritage, Science, Marine life and UAE archaeology. In her new role as Adviser for Museums to HH Ruler of Sharjah, Ataya will support and advise on strategic planning, cultural policies and lead on new museum projects. 


Ataya is a leading figure in the UAE cultural sector, dedicating her time to advocacy initiatives for accessible arts education, programs that promote cross-cultural dialogue and social inclusion, as well as mentoring young women in leadership. She is responsible for implementing His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi’s directives for future museum and cultural heritage related projects. Ataya is a graduate of both Hamilton College (2001) and Harvard University (2004).  


She serves on numerous advisory boards including Global Cultural Districts Network; the University of Sharjah’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Hamilton College, Make-A-Wish Foundation and ICCROM-Sharjah, the Arab region’s field office of the UN’s body for cultural heritage preservation. 


Ataya is a recipient of both the Order of Arts & Letters from the Republic of France and the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of her significant contributions to culture.

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