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Pandemic encourages people to use creativity against crisis: British historian

May 25, 2021
he global pandemic has encouraged people to use creativity to overcome the crisis, according to a renowned British television presenter, historian, and writer.
he global pandemic has encouraged people to use creativity to overcome the crisis, according to a renowned British television presenter, historian, and writer.

ABU DHABI — The global pandemic has encouraged people to use creativity to overcome the crisis, according to a renowned British television presenter, historian, and writer.

In an interview with Emirates News Agency (WAM), Bettany Hughes said: "It is fascinating that as soon as the pandemic hit, people started to share poetry, book recommendations, and creative art on social media, so we could understand that we need to use creativity in a crisis and also that we can create our way out of the crisis!"

"Actually, this incredible global event proved to me that more than anything else, how central arts is to our understanding of the world, and that art allows us not just to survive, but to thrive in the world," she added.

Hughes was a speaker at the cultural programs of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) on Monday.

She has written about Socrates, Helen of Troy, and the history of Istanbul, as well as presented TV series on many historical topics, most recently ancient Egypt.

Her latest book, Venus & Aphrodite examines the complicated roots of the Roman & Greek deities as well as what they meant to classical civilizations.

Although the pandemic has left her "speechless in terms of the sufferings, trials and tribulations that people have been through," she has found one positive development.

"The one positive thing which I think genuinely has happened is that we have had to accept how connected we are all globally, across borders and boundaries. So we know that everything that we do affect somebody, even if they are on the other side of the world. So I just hope that, philosophically, going forward, that will be a single positive that we can take from it," she explained.

The pandemic has also taught humanity its inseparable connection with nature, Hughes observed.

"I think it is interesting that now we have actually realized we can't talk about ourselves as being apart from nature. We have to realize how powerless we are in the face of nature."

Hughes talked about ‘Plagues and Pandemics: Shaping Civilisations’ at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) on Monday evening, in a conversation with Peter Hellyer, an advisor at the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth, who is author and editor of nearly 20 books on the UAE’s archaeology, history and environment.

They shared their thoughts on "what we can we learn about the effect on civilizations from pandemics in the past."

Held under the patronage of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and organized by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), ADIBF is being held at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) until Saturday (May 29).

For the first time, this year’s fair is a hybrid edition, combining an onsite event with virtual programs, while implementing best-in-practice COVID-19 safety standards and precautionary measures.

Around 889 publishing houses are offering 500,000 books and the fair’s hybrid programs include 229 in-person and virtual sessions, with 248 speakers from around the world. — WAM


May 25, 2021
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