To enhance efforts to preserve modern urban heritage the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage hosts Expert Meeting on Modern Heritage in the Arab Region

The Expert Meeting on Modern Heritage in the Arab Region began on Monday, 4 March 2024, at the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH), with the attendance of several experts and specialists in the field of architecture and cultural heritage preservation from many Arab countries, as well as representatives from regional and international institutions.


The meeting comes amid a growing global interest in modern heritage, which includes architectural and urban buildings constructed in the 19th and 20th centuries, reflecting unique cultural, social, and technological developments in societies. Today, the Arab region possesses a significant architectural and cultural heritage belonging to this category of heritage. It has witnessed architectural developments over the past two centuries that have resulted in a collection of structures, buildings, and engineering achievements bearing the characteristics of authenticity and innovative modern design simultaneously.


During the course of three days, the expert meeting will focus on formulating recommendations to practically promote the preservation and enhancement of modern heritage through daily discussions and field visits to sites around the Kingdom of Bahrain, as well as presentations of ideas and projects related to this heritage in Arab countries. Participants will also assess the current status of modern heritage in the region, identify its preservation and conservation potentials, discuss ways to address associated challenges and propose solutions to address the weaknesses in the legal infrastructure for its protection and the lack of funding.


UNESCO launched the Modern Heritage Program in 2001 to provide a framework for the recognition and preservation of modern architectural and urban achievements worldwide and to increase their representation on the World Heritage List. There are many examples of modern heritage in the Arab region. Among the most notable are those inscribed on the World Heritage List and Tentative Lists, such as the Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli in Lebanon, Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City: a Shared Heritage, Abraj Al-Kuwaitin Kuwait, and the City of Manama in the Kingdom of Bahrain.


In most Arab countries, there are lists taking inventory of dozens of modern heritage sites, which ARC-WH encourages to preserve and explore their possibility of exhibiting Outstanding Universal Value and potential inclusion on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.