International Coordination Meeting on the Ancient City of Aleppo, Syria
On 2 – 3 March in Beirut, Lebanon, ICCROM-ATHAR took part in the First International Coordination Meeting by UNESCO for the recovery of Aleppo’s heritage. The meeting brought together Syrian stakeholders and international experts to evaluate damage to historic monuments such as the including the citadel and souk of the Old City of Aleppo to strategize the city’s recovery. The meeting aimed at mapping existing national coordination mechanisms, overview ongoing and planned national and international initiatives, and reflect on a common framework to rehabilitate Aleppo’s cultural heritage. Representatives of the Syrian government, non-governmental organizations, and universities, presented the legal, technical and scientific initiatives undertaken to safeguard Aleppo’s cultural heritage, including damage assessment, documentation, and first-aid measures. Among the main outcomes of the meeting is an action plan of all culture-related recovery efforts.
New York Times Art Tomorrow, Qatar
The third edition of Art for Tomorrow took place from March 10-13, 2017 in Doha, Qatar. The event attracted over 400 world-renowned art and cultural icons and activists from more than 35 countries, such as museum directors, curators, artists, architects, and government officials, as well as corporate and civic leaders. With interviews and solution-oriented discussions facilitated by New York Times journalists, the conference investigated the issues that occupy the territory between art and public life. New boundaries, where and why art follows the rules or challenges them, and art’s role in creating and influencing personal, corporate, urban and national identities were all explored. On the closing day of the conference during “The Past for the Future: Protection of Cultural Legacy – Palmyra” panel, Dr. Zaki Aslan addressed the urgent issue of cultural heritage protection in the Middle East. The panel explored not the question of ‘How can we protect or reconstruct our broken legacies?’, but rather ‘Should we reconstruct at all?’
Architectural and Urban Heritage Observatory in the Arab World, Tunis
From 23 – 24 March, ICCROM-ATHAAR partook in a regional conference organized by ALECSO in Tunis aiming at creating an observatory for the historic cities in the Arab region. The idea of the observatory has emerged in addressing the rising threats to cultural heritage in general, but particularly to historic cities in the Arab World due to ongoing political instability, and the increasing deliberate targeting of cultural heritage properties. The conference included presentations from cities facing the most eminent threats in Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, describing the current situation and challenges professionals are facing in their efforts to protect their cultural heritage. Dr. Aslan presented ICCROM-ATHAR’s work in addressing those challenges in capacity building, professional meetings and symposia, especially in providing consultancy to ICCROM member-states. He also highlighted the importance of the newly established GIS lab in the center premises and its relevance to the creation of this observatory. A foreseen MoU between ALECSO and ICCROM-ATHAR will facilitate cooperation in compiling data for the observatory, and allow data inquiry and research for the benefit of the Arab Region.
Oman Fort Montiring Mission
In Response to the World Heritage Committee‘s (WHC) Decision 40 COM 7B.26, a joint UNESCO-ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Bahla Fort World Heritage Site took place from 6-9 March 2017. The objective of the mission was to assess the current state of conservation of the property and recent and proposed interventions. Such proposals were aimed at rehabilitating and refurbishing the Old Souk, the restoration of the Wall of Bahla, Bahla Market, Sabah Salem Gate, Mausoleum of Shaikh Bin Baraka, and the Alkhair mosque. Moreover, the mission in essence was fact-finding in nature, gathering information and examining the progress of the site’s status and management. Moreover, during the visit, Dr. Aslan together with Mr. Brenden Cassar, UNESCO, as well as ICOMOS expert Dr. Mariana Correia, met with several key stakeholders such as His Excellency Hassan Bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Lawati, the top Advisor to Oman’s Ministery of Heritage and Culture, and His Excellency the Wali of Bahla. Several recommendations were made and will be part of the reactive monitoring report. These include for example: sending the site’s documentation and its state of conservation to the World Heritage Committee, defining boundaries and buffer zones clearly, establishing a local management office at the site, and devising robust management and conservation plans.