Director-General, Sharjah Museums Authority
Manal Ataya is a museum professional with extensive experience in museum development and cultural diplomacy.
As Director General of SMA 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 in 2018 and the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany in 2022 for her significant contributions to culture.