The International Council on Archives (ICA) Congress is set to mark a significant milestone as it arrives for the first time in the Middle East, with Abu Dhabi hosting the event from October 9-13 2023. Themed Enriching Knowledge Societies, the event will be organised by National Library and Archives at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

The ICA Congress - Abu Dhabi 2023 will highlight the importance of information availability and accessibility in modern society. The upcoming sessions will focus on five subthemes: Peace and Tolerance, Emerging Techniques: Electronic Records, Electronic Solutions, Trust and Evidence, Access and Memories and Sustainable Knowledge, Sustainable Planet: Archives, Records, and Climate Change, which coincides with the UAE’s hosting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), one of the most important events on global climate action agenda.

Over 5,000 participants from more than 130 nations are expected to attend the event, along with 50 companies and 15 exhibiting countries. The event will serve as a premier forum for participants from around the world to network and explore collaboration opportunities. This event will prove to be crucial as investments in archival collections management, digital record keeping and public programming are increasing in the Middle East. The figures achieved so far underscore the success of the congress including record-breaking submissions and acceptances of worksheets, an increased number of scientific workshops and a remarkable count of registered participants in various events to date.

Dr. Abdullah Al Raisi, Chairman of the Higher Organization committee of the ICA Congress Abu Dhabi 2023, and Cultural Adviser, UAE Presidential Court said: “We are honoured to host this extraordinary global event in the UAE, which symbolises the country’s dedication to cultural heritage preservation and the strengthening of the archives sector. To make these efforts a reality, the UAE has embraced the latest worldwide archiving procedures and practises, as well as trained expert personnel in this field. The ICA Congress provides a platform for experts to share industry knowledge, insights and proposals for the advancement of archival science. The committee is eager to motivate the archiving community to submit recommendations for better understanding of the sector’s concerns and challenges, as well as solutions to mitigate them.”

The hosting of the ICA Congress is a clear testament to the nation's unwavering dedication to preserving cultural heritage and enhancing the significance of archives in safeguarding and facilitating access to valuable information. At the forefront of this effort is the UAE National Library and Archives, which is actively taking the lead in protecting the country's rich cultural heritage.

Several events will be organised by the council during this year’s event, including the ICA Abu Dhabi 2023 Archives Hackathon for high school and university students in the UAE. The winning university team will receive AED73,000, while the winning high school team will receive AED37,000. The UAE also introduced the bursary programme, as part of its keenness to support underprivileged communities.

The cultural programme of the congress includes organising a series of visits for the participating delegations to a set of heritage and cultural sites, civilisational landmarks and distinguished destinations in Abu Dhabi. The primary goal is to showcase the emirate's distinctive elements and elevate its global cultural and tourism prominence. These destinations include the Heritage Village; the Abrahamic Family House; the Old Souq in the World Trade Centre; the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau is the official supporter/sponsor of the event, while EXPM is the gold partner and NVS Soft and Zeutschel GmbH are each silver partners. The Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre, The Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones - Modon, The National Centre for Archives and Records in Saudi Arabia, The King Abdul-Aziz Public Library, RM Soft CO., LTD, Archiving Solutions L.L.C, Biomist Technology Co., LTD, Forefront Technologies, Preservica, Clarivate, and Temrex are among the exhibitors.

The International Council on Archives was founded in 1948 to encourage the preservation of archives and enable global access to them. The council collaborates with UNESCO, the BlueShield Foundation and other international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to provide specialised training courses, set standards and educate the public on the value of documentary records. The council addresses critical concerns such as the long-term preservation of complex digital records, methodologies needed to make correct data widely available for educational purposes and legal rules and criteria that regulate the preservation process.