AAJ supports Desert Culture research efforts

Left: The water well in Wadi Fatima (Late 1960s, Wadi Fatima, by Motoko Katakura), Right: The same water well, ruined fifty years later (2015, Wadi Fatima, by Yuko Fujimoto) The well was no longer used but water has been pumped for irrigation at some near-by plantations in Wadi Fatima.

Within the framework of Saudi Aramco’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program (CSR), Aramco Asia Japan has partnered with Motoko Katakura Foundation for Desert Culture (MOKO-FDC) to promote research and study of desert culture and introduce desert arts & culture through lectures, exhibitions and symposia through the donation agreement signed between the two parties on Dec.18, 2014.

Leveraging the agreement, a delegation of MOKO-FDC recently visited to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where they were received by a team representing King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, a great example of Saudi Aramco's corporate vision to create a thriving knowledge society in the Kingdom and the world at large. Scheduled to open in 2016, the center is designed to become the hub for knowledge, innovation and artistic creativity as well as cross cultural window between the Kingdom and the World. Both teams have exchanged views and ideas for future collaboration programs to cultivate the understanding of Saudi Culture particularly in the area of desert cultural heritage. The MOKO-FDC’s delegation also visited Saudi Aramco's technical information center where historical materials are being archived.

The visit to Wadi Fatima, located near the city of Jeddah, gave them a fresh look and feel to re-evaluate the research by late Prof. Motoko Katakura on desert culture in the Kingdom. Prof. Motoko Katakura, a female cultural anthropologist, had carried out the research there, nearly a half century ago. The Foundation is planning several missions to the Kingdom to reconsider her research from the perspective of fifty years interval.

The MOKO-FDC was founded in November 2013 on the will of late Prof. Motoko Katakura, who had pioneered researches in the Middle East and the Islamic world. Her research included more than decade-long fieldwork at Wadi Fatima which offered enormous insights on the culture of the Middle East, such as indigenous Arab culture including their unique sense of values built up by the nomadic life.

Although the scenery of Wadi Fatima had changed a lot, the delegation confirmed what Prof. Motoko Katakura disclosed in her research was still alive. They were able to find the actual sites intact and to actually meet her old acquaintance from some 40 years ago at sites where late Prof. Katakura conducted her studies since the early 1970s.