AUS reveals Palestinian history using virtual reality - GulfToday

AUS reveals Palestinian history using virtual reality


There were 80 participants, and each night they would listen to Palestinian elders sharing stories of Palestinian history.

 A virtual reality documentary by a faculty member from the College of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) has been selected as one of only eight installations currently on show as part of the “Mutation Hybridation” exhibition at the Memory of the Future Museum in Paris, France. Entitled Kan Yama Kan (Once upon A Time In Palestine), the project took Dr Suheil Dahdal, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication, five years to complete. The virtual reality documentary aims to preserve Palestinian culture that reimagines the past using new technologies.

Working in conjunction with Palestinian youngsters; the Sharek Youth Forum, a Palestinian youth organisation; and 18 students from across three AUS colleges, the project was shot in Palestine and at the MCM studio on campus and was completed with support from the AUS Faculty Research Grant.

Dr Dahdal conceived the idea for the project, which uses VR and AR technology, while running a summer camp for children in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin in the occupied West Bank in 2003.

Speaking about the documentary, Dr Dahdal said: “During the summer camp in 2003, there were 80 participants, and each night they would listen to Palestinian elders sharing stories of Palestinian history. The kids then created artwork and films for two weeks inspired by the stories. This project is very close to my heart because it’s about preserving Palestinian pre-1948 oral history and at a time so critical with not many elders remaining as living witnesses of what we had once upon a time. Through this project, their stories – even though they are gone – will remain alive for future generations.

“I am very pleased and grateful to have worked with such wonderful students who were instrumental in achieving this pioneering innovation that is not only professional but unique as it created a world first, combing live-footage volumetric videos in a virtual 3D reimagined Palestinian village to immerse the audience in historical content.”

The exhibition runs till August 31. For more information on the project, please visit

Recently Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah, and President of the American University of Sharjah, AUS, announced the allocation of Dhs550 million for scientific research at AUS over the next five years.

The announcement came during a speech delivered by His Highness in the presence of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, during the university’s spring 2019 graduation ceremony held on Saturday at University City Hall in Sharjah.

A total of 610 students graduated in the spring batch which included 536 with bachelor’s degree, and 74 of master’s degree.

Sheikh Sultan congratulated the graduates, and said, “When we created the American University of Sharjah, more than 20 years ago, our goal was not only to prepare young people, but also to prepare educated generations, open horizons in keeping with the developments of the times, always seeking to acquire science and knowledge and looking for creativity.”

He added that some graduates have participated in academic conferences, competed in international competitions in all fields, and got first and advanced positions, not only in the region but globally as well.

He pointed out that the university was progressing towards achieving the objectives of its strategic plan in the field of scientific research. It supported the research of members of the academic faculty in different fields. The results of researches were presented in various scientific conferences and published in several important scientific journals, he noted.

The Sharjah Ruler shared with the audience the current plans and achievement of the university. “This year, the University launched a bachelor’s programme in psychology, started a specialised programme in data science, and is preparing to open the new additional building for the Engineering College in the next academic semester,” he added. His Highness added, “All that we have said today distinguishes the American University of Sharjah and its reputation within and outside our region. This spring, the University was invited to join the Bloomberg Experiential Learning Partner Programme, the first in the Gulf and the Middle East, to join 35 leading international universities.”

The American University of Sharjah (AUS) was founded in 1997 by Sheikh Sultan, who articulated his vision of a distinctive institution against the backdrop of Islamic history and in the context of the aspirations and needs of contemporary society in the UAE and the Gulf region.

Firmly grounded in principles of meritocracy and with a strong reputation for academic excellence, AUS has come to represent the very best in teaching and research, accredited internationally and recognised by employers the world over for creating graduates equipped with the knowledge, skills and drive to lead in the 21st century.

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