Organisation of a Workshop on the Fundamentals of Conservation of Built Heritage

Urban cultural heritage in the Gulf Arab States plays a fundamental role in documenting the history and development of the region. It reflects ancient architectural traditions, significant cultural diversity, and enduring civilizational advancements. In light of the increasing global interest in this heritage typology, official cultural institutions have made greater efforts in recent years to ensure its preservation and transmission to future generations.

As part of Kuwait’s efforts to preserve its built heritage, represented by the National Council for Culture, Art and Letters (NCCAL), the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) launched today at its premises in Manama, Kingdom of  Bahrain, a workshop titled “Fundamentals of Conservation of Built Heritage”, in collaboration with the National Council for Culture, Art and Letters  (NCCAL) in Kuwait and the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), from 21 to 24 April 2024, with the participation of a group of cultural heritage experts from Kuwait.

BACA possesses significant and unique regional expertise in urban heritage preservation and restoration. This is demonstrated through the “Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy” World Heritage site project, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Through this project, BACA has successfully restored dozens of historical houses and buildings dating back to the pearl trading period at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, acquiring extensive knowledge in restoration, materials, and preservation techniques, which can be applied in other locations in neighbouring Gulf countries.

This workshop aims to enhance fundamental knowledge in the field of urban heritage restoration, providing participants with the opportunity to acquire skills in assessing and understanding the conditions of heritage buildings and the main deterioration factors they face. Additionally, the workshop provides a platform for exchanging experiences and information between experts in Kuwait and Bahrain, encouraging critical thinking in discussing and evaluating the best preservation methodologies in the region. It also offers an opportunity to directly visit several heritage sites in Bahrain, such as Qalat Bu Mahir, Fakhro House, Al-Jalahma House, and Siyadi Mosque, through field visits and practical applications to explore the challenges of heritage conservation projects.

The collaborating partners hope the workshop will achieve significant results, including enhancing the participants’ knowledge in heritage conservation operations, focusing on challenges that may arise in Kuwait and benefiting from Bahrain’s projects and experiences in this field. Attendees are also expected to gain additional knowledge about the materials used in heritage buildings how to conduct building assessment studies, and choose the appropriate intervention and restoration methods. the workshop aims to establish a network of relationships between experts in both countries to enhance preservation efforts on both sides.

Following the workshop at ARC-WH, a second phase will be held in Kuwait. The aim is to build upon the knowledge gained by participants through learning from the Kingdom’s experience and enable them to apply this knowledge at the local level.