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Under the patronage of Sharjah Ruler, Deputy Ruler inaugurates symposium on the protection of cultural heritage
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah and President of American University of Sharjah (AUS), a symposium on the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis was opened by His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, at the Dr. Sultan Al Qassimi Centre of Gulf Studies, today, May 22.
The three-day regional symposium is hosted in the framework of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)'s Architectural-Archaeological Tangible Heritage in the Arab Region (ATHAR) program and the newly established ATHAR Regional Conservation Centre in Sharjah. The symposium will move to the AUS campus tomorrow, May 23 and will conclude at AUS on May 24.
Dr. Zaki Aslan, Director of ATHAR Regional Centre, thanked His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi for his support in establishing ATHAR regional Center in Sharjah, which is hoped to become a beacon of Arab cultural renaissance. "We are pleased to host this seminar and launch this initiative from Sharjah, the capital of cultural. At this seminar, we plan to draw policies and set up a mechanism to preserve the cultural heritage that our Arab region is known for. Through it, we aim to preserve our heritage and improve expertise and potential in the Arab World," he said.
During the opening ceremony, the new website for the ATHAR Regional Centre was launched. Dr. Aslan said on the occasion, "We are happy to launch this new website in the presence of His Excellency the Crown Prince of Sharjah. We have established this website as we are in the information age and hope for it to enhance our efforts in working towards the betterment of our cultural heritage."
Dr. Stefano De Caro, the Director General of ICCROM, also addressed the attendees. "ICCROM is pleased to be a part of this initiative and the purpose of this symposium is to establish a regional framework to guide national policies for heritage protection. Education is the prevention of any risk measure and at ICCROM, we believe that attention should be given to the young generation by making them aware of their cultural heritage. The best way to fulfill the purpose of preservation is preparedness for the future," he said.
Leading experts from around the world are attending the symposium. The event includes presentations, discussions, plenary brainstorming sessions and group work divided over three days by theme. The first day addresses the topic "Assessing the damage to Cultural Heritage and evaluating current systems of protection;" the second day deals with "Protecting Cultural Heritage during Crises and Legal Provisions" and the final day is dedicated to the "Protection of Cultural Heritage and its role in the recovery and reconciliation process."
The symposium will present relevant case studies arising from threats and damage caused through war, intolerance, civil unrest, theft and illicit traffic of cultural artifacts and will seek to understand how the impact on heritage might be minimized. The proceedings of the symposium will also be published later.
In the first lecture of the symposium, Dr. Mounir Bouchenaki, Special Advisor and Former Director of ICCROM, thanked the Sharjah Ruler for his patronage, and also thanked the Crown Prince for inaugurating the session. He reviewed the efforts exerted by the international organizations in their attempt to preserve cultural heritage, especially in the Arab region, using examples from different Arab countries including Egypt and Libya. Dr. Bouchenaki also applauded the international organizations in their efforts in setting up laws and legislations on this regard.
This symposium, which aims to spread health, social, environmental and safety awareness among students and the general public, is the first major activity attributed to the ATHAR Regional Centre and is hosted in partnership with the College of Architecture, Art and Design at AUS; Dr. Sultan Al Qassimi Centre of Gulf Studies; and the Sharjah Museums Department.
Several Arab countries including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, are represented at the meeting, as well as representatives from the ATHAR program partner institutions in Sharjah; Sharjah Museums Department, Department of Culture and Information, American University of Sharjah and University of Sharjah. Also represented are international and regional organizations including ALECSO, UNESCO, INTERPOL, ICOMOS, Art Loss Register and WATCH.