Third Cycle of the Periodic Reporting Exercise: Focal Points Meeting

From 12-14 November 2018, The Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) and the World Heritage Centre (WHC), in collaboration and with the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), organized the first regional meeting of Focal Points for World Heritage in the Arab States during the Third Cycle of the Periodic Reporting, held in Manama, Bahrain.

During the meeting, the focal points discussed concepts related to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and the main challenges and opportunities its faces today at a regional level.  Participants were divided into three working groups to complete Section I and Section II of the Periodic Reporting questionnaires and were assisted by resource persons from ARC-WH, WHC, ICOMOS, and IUCN, to offer clarification and insight.

To assist the working groups in completing the sections of the Questionnaire, namely I and II, examples were used: Bahrain was used as a case study for Section 1—dedicated to the assessment of the overall iplementation of the World Heritage Convention at a national level—while for Section II—which focuses on the state of conservation of the sites and effective management at a site level—the World Heritage site of Qalat Al Bahrain (Bahrain), Wadi Rum Protected Area (Jordan), and Tipasa (Algeria) were used to complete Section II.

The working group methodology enabled the focal points to experience concepts and issues first-hand, and encouraged positive debate and discussions amongst the participants. The inclusion of sustainable development perspective into the questionnaire, as well as the synergies with other international treaties and conventions were highly appreciated by focal points and gave them the opportunity to learn more about these notions and the importance of coordination between national stakeholders.

The meeting also highlighted some technical issues and difficulties faced, including possible solutions to be considered by the WHC during the next periodic reporting cycle.  The last day of the meeting was dedicated to a field visit to Qal’at al-Bahrain in order to observe the concerns faced by the cultural heritage site and conservation measures taken by the Bahraini authorities, which were initially discussed earlier during the workshop.