ABU DHABI - Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Regional Meeting that will be held next month in Abu Dhabi under the title “World Heritage in the Arab States: Follow-up to Periodic Reporting and Information Management”, confirmed that the meeting, held for the first time in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, comes as a result of realizing the importance of the international scientific forums and conferences in making strategic plans, discussing visions and exchanging ideas between scientists and researchers from all fields, and eventually reaching the best solutions suitable for the Arab region and its circumstances. It also comes to show the remarkable activity and steps being taken in Abu Dhabi on the way of implementing the strategic plan to develop the Emirate and utilize its cultural and natural heritage, making it a major destination in the international tourism market.
Al Mazrouei revealed that during this important Regional Meeting, held under the patronage of Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, from 4 to 8 December 2005, the launch of the “Abu Dhabi Cultural Heritage Management Strategy” will be publicized on Wednesday 7 December at the Le Royal Meridien Hotel.
He also made clear that the main objective of the meeting is to identify a programme that enables the States Parties to undertake the necessary actions for the elaboration of a national work plan, and possibly regional ones, and to identify the projects that will be carried out in 2006 and 2007, for which the World Heritage Centre will have to submit a report to the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session in July 2007.
Al Mazrouei added that the Regional Meeting also aims to assess the application of the Regional Programme till now, to present and review assistance modules and to facilitate the dialogue between States Parties, experts, technical partners and donors. Furthermore, a certain number of priorities, such as the increasing of the number of natural sites nominated to the World Heritage List (many potential marine sites), the reinforcement of the capacities in information management or the development of networks for exchange of experiences and competences between the Arab World Heritage Sites managers will also be discussed.
Dr. Sami Al Masri, General Coordinator of the Organizing Committee of the World Heritage Meeting, said that Abu Dhabi meeting seeks to develop actions and encourage the dialogue between the Arab States for the protection and conservation of Arab World Heritage Sites. It also seeks to identify the natural and cultural sites that could be added to the World Heritage List. Dr. Al Masri also confirmed the significance of this event for the conservation of the Arab natural and cultural heritage and its publicity.
The meeting will bring together researchers and experts from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UAE and all the Arab States Parties, directors of the national institutions in charge of the protection and conservation of the cultural and natural heritage of each Arab State Party, representatives of the advisory bodies to the World Heritage Committee, such as the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), in addition to representatives of the main national, regional and international partners (donors, scientific institutions, universities, cooperation agencies, etc.) already collaborating with the World Heritage Centre for the conservation of the cultural and natural heritage in the Arab Region.
18 Arab States ratified the World Heritage Convention, and there are 61 World Heritage Sites in the Arab States: 56 cultural, 4 natural and 1 mixed (cultural and natural).
The World Heritage Committee approved, at its 27th session (Paris, July 2003), the “Regional Programme for the Arab States” submitted by the World Heritage Centre, and on the basis of the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee this Regional Programme was elaborated by the World Heritage Centre in order to provide a response to the issues raised by the Periodic Reporting exercise for the Arab States (submitted to the World Heritage Committee at its 24th session, Cairns, Australia, 2000).
Chairman of the Regional Meeting Organizing Committee made clear that one of the important issues raised was the lack of appropriate documentation and of efficient management of the information collected for the conservation and protection of natural and cultural sites. A project entitled “Development of a World Heritage Information Management Capacity in the Arab States”, financed by the Kingdom of Belgium, has already been implemented in order to address this issue.
The timetable for the implementation of the Regional Programme
(2004-2009) foresees that a consultative meeting between the Arab States Parties and the World Heritage Centre be held in 2005, in order to have the content presented and discussed in view of its application. The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has accepted to collaborate with the World Heritage Centre for the organization of this activity by hosting the Regional Meeting next month in Abu Dhabi and ensuring its local coordination.