Launch of World Heritage Days in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage

Today, Sunday, 25 September 2022, the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) launched “World Heritage Days” activities at the Centre’s premises in the presence of Her Excellency Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Chairperson of the Board of ARC-WH, and His Excellency Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, in addition to the presence of a number of ambassadors, and those interested in cultural affairs in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

These events are organised to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of ARC-WH and the 50th anniversary of the 1972 World Heritage Convention. It will continue for five consecutive days until 29 September 2022.

On this occasion, Her Excellency Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa said: “On the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, we continue to pursue our dream that cultural heritage will be a compass for our countries towards growth and development,” stressing that ARC-WH has made valuable achievements thanks to the generous support of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, as well the directions and vision of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the distinguished Prime Minister.

Her Excellency Sheikha Mai Al Khalifa also stressed the importance of the strategic partnership between ARC-WH, UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies of the World Heritage Convention in preserving and safeguarding World Heritage sites in the Arab region, expressing her aspiration that the next ten years will be rich and fruitful with achievements befitting the cultural and natural treasures of the Arab world.

Dr Heba Abdel Aziz, director of ARC-WH, stated that ARC-WH celebrated its 10th anniversary by launching a number of initiatives and activities that bring World Heritage closer to Arab societies and youth, noting the importance of strengthening local identity, advancing sustainable development and advancing the national economy. She pointed out that the World Heritage Days provide the public in the Kingdom of Bahrain with the opportunity to interact with many topics uniquely related to World Heritage.

In a recorded speech on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, the Director of the World Heritage Centre, Lazar Eloundou Assomo, said that the Convention had contributed to protecting heritage for the past five decades, noting that today, it is the most important Convention for preserving heritage in the world. He stressed that the World Heritage Convention constitutes an important framework for international cooperation in the field of heritage preservation, expressing his happiness for the participation of many parties around the world in celebrating this momentous occasion.

The Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, Ernesto Ottone, congratulated ARC-WH on the occasion of its 10th anniversary, highlighting that the Centre is a close partner of UNESCO. He noted the effective role of ARC-WH in facilitating the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the Arab region through efforts to conserve heritage, build capacities and provide expertise in the field of management and projects that assist heritage sites in danger in places, such as Beirut and the Socotra Archipelago in the Republic of Yemen. Ottone expressed his desire for the continued partnership with ARC-WH in light of the celebration of the 50TH anniversary of the Convention.

Launched on the first day of the week-long event, the exhibition “World Heritage Days”, held at ARC-WH’s premises in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, takes its visitors on a journey to explore the role of the 1972 World Heritage Convention in preserving and protecting more than 1,000 sites around the world, including 88 sites in the Arab region, ranging from cultural, natural and mixed. The Centre’s latest publication, “World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom of Bahrain”, was also launched during the opening.

During the opening, ARC-WH also announced the winners of the My Heritage – Arab Youth for Heritage competition. The competition invited the Arab youth to create short films that express a human connection with the heritage site in which they live. The competition received a total of 217 entries from 16 Arab countries, 127 of which reached the qualifiers, and 28 films were produced, of which six films won: “Qantara”, produced by Manar Alwan about the site of Mada’in Saleh from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and “Cake and Sugar” about the site of the city Old Shibam and its wall in the Republic of Yemen, produced by the Prolens team, the film “Libya: Ghadames” by its producer Yassin Al-Kilani about the site of the ancient city of Ghadames and the film “The House of Bird” by Mustafa Al-Badan about the site “The Country of Olives and Karma – A Cultural Landscape in South Jerusalem, Battir, State of Palestine”. The film “Old Sana’a” by Diwan from the republic of Yemen and the film “Barouta” by Hajar Al-Jaziri is about the site of Kairouan in Tunisia.

This was followed by a lecture by the blind traveller and adventurer Ammar Latif, during which he talked about his journey in transforming his loss of sight into one of the most inspiring stories as he discovered new ways of experiencing the world.

The World Heritage Days will continue until 29 September and include many events and competitions, workshops, lectures and tours. More information and event registration can be obtained through the Centre’s website or through the Centre’s social media pages at @ARCWH.

The Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage was established in 2012 based on an agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain and UNESCO as a category two centre under the auspices of UNESCO. It is the only one of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa. The Centre has continued to assist Arab countries in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and helps to contribute to the preservation of World Heritage sites in the Arab world.