Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, ICCROM-ATHAR Regional Conservation Centre in Sharjah (ICCROM-ATHAR) organised a Regional Workshop on the “Protection of Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis”. This workshop, which was held at the ICCROM-ATHAR premises in the period between 15 – 17 December 2015, was attended by a number of representatives from the Arab states: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen. The workshop experts gave brief presentations on the general conditions of cultural heritage in their respective countries, shedding light on the destruction and theft suffered by their countries’ cultural properties. The workshop participants denounced the current conservation state of built heritage in Jerusalem, as well as the continuous attempts to displace the local communities of the city. They also expressed their complete support for the efforts invested by conservation professionals in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Libya, and Egypt for the protection and preservation of cultural heritage amid the ongoing crises.
After reviewing the results of the capacity building courses implemented with the aim of forming multidisciplinary national teams responsible for the protection and salvage of cultural heritage, and in view of the Sharjah Initiative 2012 and the Sharjah Statement 2014, which jointly laid the foundation for guidelines to be followed by the Arab states in the protection of their heritage, in addition to the resolutions of the latest Conference of Arab Ministers of Culture which was held last January in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the meeting attended by the participating organisations held last year in Bahrain with regards to the legal frameworks relevant to cultural heritage protection, participants of the workshop agreed to adopt an action plan to be executed in coordination with the ICCROM-ATHAR Regional Conservation Centre in Sharjah (ICCROM-ATHAR), and in close cooperation with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) in 2016. The action plan comprises the below-mentioned strategic projects.
The workshop participants also agreed to devise a mechanism that facilitates the continuity of this meeting’s results, in addition to a mechanism for review and assessment through:
The workshop participants concurred the importance of training multidisciplinary national teams in the Arab states to be adequately equipped for the protection and conservation of cultural heritage in times of crisis. (partners: Arab member states).
2- Information management and documentation, and databases relevant to movable and immovable cultural heritage records in the Arab states:
The workshop participants agreed on the necessity of creating an electronic gateway (E-gate) which consists of a database comprising the different inventories and archives of cultural properties in the Arab states. This database, which will be made available for all member states, will provide information on cultural heritage present in the Arab states, rendering it as a key resource in times of crisis as well as for research purposes.
3- Technical and financial support for the conservation of cultural heritage in times of crisis:
The workshop participants agreed to dedicate exerted efforts for the creation of an emergency fund for cultural heritage salvage in the Arab region, to be achieved under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. The fund shall mobilise Arab and international contributions and efforts to provide technical and financial support for the Arab countries whose cultural heritage faces destruction during crisis. This will allow affected countries to perform first aid interventions for cultural heritage in times of crisis. A study will be conducted to explore the nature of this fund and to devise an outreach mechanism which aims to raise awareness through media of risks affecting cultural heritage in several Arab states.
4- Activation and update of legal frameworks and legislations:
The workshop participants agreed to support the work of Arab states implemented for the development of their local laws in conformity with international agreements and approaches. They also agreed to provide technical support for the Arab states in the preparation of recovery files of illegally exported archaeological objects, as well as to optimise benefit from the international laws and legislations in the field of cultural heritage conservation.
List of Participants:
Mr. Mohammad Al Aidaroos, Consultant at the National Urban Heritage Center, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Mr. Mohammad Al Bloushi, Ministry of Culture, Arts, and Heritage, Qatar
Dr. Munther Al Jamhawi, Director General of the Department of Antiquities, Jordan
Dr. Mashari Al Naim, General supervisor at the National Urban Heritage Center, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Dr. Naif Al Qannour, Antiquities and Museums Sector, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Mr. Yousef Khiara, Director of Cultural Heritage, Morocco
Mr. Sarkis Khouri, Director General of Antiquities, Lebanon
Dr. Abdulrahman Mohammad, Director of the General Authority for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan
Mr. Mamdouh Odeh, Director General of Crisis and Disaster Management, Egypt
Dr. Naji Thawabeh, Director of the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities of Yemen, Yemen
Mr. Jihad Yasine, Director General of the Department of Excavations and Museums, Palestine
From the United Arab Emirates:
Dr. Eman Al Assi, Dubai Municipality
Mr. Mohammad Al Balawneh, National Council for Tourism and Antiquities
Ms. Badriya Al Hosani, Director of the Khorfakkan Heritage Office
Ms. Mai Al Mazrou’i, Director of the Architectural and Urban Heritage Conservation
Ms. Asma Al Suwaidi, Director by delegation of the Sharjah Institute of Heritage
Ms. Manal Ataya, Director General of the Sharjah Museums Department
Dr. Saeed Haddad, Director of the Kalba Heritage Office
Mr. AbdulAziz Al Musallam, Director of the Sharjah Institute of Heritage
Mr. Awad Saleh, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority
Mr. Abdulmuttaleb Abu Salem, Executive Director of Tripoli’s Heritage Institution, Libya
Dr. Ibrahim Al Jazi, Professor of International Law and Dean of the College of Law in University of Jordan, Jordan
Dr. Mohammad Sameh Amr, Permanent Delegate of Egypt to UNESCO, Egypt
Mr. Nasir Arafat, Director of the Association of the Local Committee of Nablus, Palestine
Dr. Ridha Fraoua, Head of Unit at the Department of Justice of the Swiss Confederation, Tunisia/Switzerland
Regional and International Organisations:
Dr. Abdulaziz Al Jbouri, ISESCO
Dr. Zaki Aslan, ICCROM
Dr. Kamal Bitar, ARC-WH
Dr. Hayet Guettat, ALECSO
Mr. Anwar Sabik, ICCROM
Ms. Shireen Sahouri, ICCROM