Manal Ataya

Manal Ataya is a museums professional with close to 2 decades of experience in museum development and cultural diplomacy.

As the Director General of Sharjah's Museum Authority since 2008, she oversees a team of 650 staff working in Sharjah’s 16 museums which cover areas of modern and contemporary Arab art, Islamic history, UAE heritage and archaeology. 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 (2018) and the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany (2022) in recognition of her significant contributions to culture.

How the Fellowship impacted me

Being part of the Clore program early on in my career helped me immensely by giving me the insight into understanding that leadership is not something you are born with but rather what your learn and cultivate through your professional journey. it also gave me the mentoring i needed to give me confidence and prepare for the role i would be expected to take a year after i completed the program as i was promoted to the Director position.

How I am using my skills for change

always looking for ways to think outside everyday tasks and take on new challenging ideas and projects. i also, thanks to my experience at the Clore, continue to mentor colleagues and others as i believe it is integral to personal growth.