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30 April 2012 Inauguration of Arab Regional Center for World Heritage (ARC-WH)

H.E Shaikha Mai: The Centre will help Arab States to implement World Heritage Convention and will contribute to provide training and expertise
H.E Shaikha Hessa Al-Sabah: Bahrain's pioneering cultural role is not new

H.E Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa inaugurated the Arab Regional Center for World Heritage (ARC-WH). The Center's inauguration came   in April a month dedicated to the" Heritage" theme as part of the events celebrating Manama as Capital of the Arab Culture 2012. Present at the ceremony were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, the President of Dar al Athar al Islamiyyah (house of Islamic Archeology) in Kuwait, Shaikha Hessa Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, as well as a number of experts and specialists.

The new premises, created to reflect Arabian heritage and contemporary design, are adjacent to the Bahrain National Museum.

“The Ministry of Culture has always been committed to heritage conservation and protection,” said Shaikha Mai Bin Mohammad Al Khalifa. “The opening of the ARC-WH in Manama both reinforces our position and enables us to further support the region in presenting its diverse heritage resources,” Shaikha Mai said as she opened the new premises created to reflect Arabian heritage and contemporary design, by  world –renowned designer, Tado Indo as part of  part of a museum and research center in Sar.

Under the agreement between Bahrain and UNESCO, the ARC-WH is established to support the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the Arab States region with the underlying aim of protecting, conserving and presenting cultural and natural heritage. The ARC-WH is a category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO. 

The minister assured that the permanent headquarters of the center will be a part of a museum and research center in Sar.

The first meeting of the Governing Board

H.E Shaikha Mai bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa, Minister of Culture, presided the first meeting of the Governing Board, which includes also H.E Shaikha Dr. Rana Al-Khalifa ( representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Véronique Dauge (WHC and UNESCO DG representative), Dr Awadh Salah, (UAE), Rachida Zadoum ( Algeria), Haifa Abdulhalim, (International Union for the Protection of Nature) and Dr. Zaki Aslan (ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, Rome). The meeting was held in order to approve the administrative and financial manual of ARC-WH, the proposed name for the post of Director and the first programme of activities to be implemented. A work plan and May 2012-2013 budget were approved during the meeting, as well as launching an Arabic language website for the centre and the translation of many world heritage documents into Arabic. The programme axes of ARC-WH being rooted in the results of the First Periodic Reporting of the Arab Region (2000), the members of the Unit for the Establishment of ARC-WH participated in the meeting entitled “Follow-up to the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting in the Arab States: Regional Meeting for the Elaboration of the Regional Programme”, held in Rabat (Morocco), from 7 to 9 March 2011. ARC-WH was identified as a key actor by the three sub-regions to facilitate a number of training and capacity-building activities, as well as for fund-raising. ARC-WH aims to focus on raising awareness and translation of documentation into Arabic in order to ensure wide dissemination of information. Another area which ARC-WH will address in its first years of activity is establishing strong relationships with world heritage experts form North-Africa, as well organizing regional workshops and hosting annual Arab-region meetings. Indeed, the potential in the Arab Region is very high and the expertise available in many fields. Specifically, marine heritage should be one of the key programmes to be implemented as all States Parties in the region have direct access to the sea. Finally, the board of directors was informed that the Centre's Director appointed by consensual agreement between UNESO and the Ministry of Culture will be Dr. Saeed Abdalla al-Khuzai, Natural Heritage Advisor in Heritage, Archaeology and Sustainable Development.

Bahrain pioneering role in all fields

During the opening ceremony, H.E Shaikha Hessa Al-Sabah, the President of Dar al Athar al Islamiyyah (House of Islamic Archeology) in Kuwait said that Bahrain has a history of leading role in the region, whether in education or literary works, and it is not strange or new to see this country continuing its leading role. She added that Bahrain has deployed strenuous efforts with regards to protection, conservation, presentation and rehabilitation of its heritage; the Kingdom of Bahrain has manifestly proved to the world that it deserves to host the ARC-WH Centre.

Counselor to the Algerian Minister of Culture and member of the ARC-WH Centre's Governing Body congratulated the kingdom of Bahrain for this prestigious centre, confirming Algeria's support in this regard.

 Dr. Zaki Aslan (ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, Rome) argued that he had been following the efforts deployed by H.E, Shaikha Mai to establish such a centre since 2008. He expressed his appreciation and thanks to the Minister of Culture, for hosting the centre, stressing his commitment to support the close cooperation and coordination between ARC-WH Centre and ICCROM Arab Program. 

Fro her part, Ms Haifa Abdulhalim, (International Union for the Protection of Nature),  stressed the need for ARC-WH Centre in the Arab region in order to help Arab states implement World Heritage Convention and satisfy its articles and conditions. The kingdom of Bahrain has playing a leading role in supporting the application of the World Heritage Convention and thus, has been successful in its request to host ARC-WH Centre.

Dr. Zaher Abdulrahman Othman, Director General of TARA Company, said that culture is Bahrain is part of its regional, Arab and world-wide identity, which goes back to ancient history and early civilisations. Therefore, the Bahraini cultural presence is characterized by diversity, renovation and openness to other civilisations. This was manifested and reflected through the conferences, meetings, Spring of Culture, Heritage festivals during the last decade.

The beginning of the story; five years ago.

As stipulated in an agreement between the Government of Bahrain and UNESCO, the ARC-WH is established to support the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the Arab States region with the underlying aim of protecting, conserving and presenting cultural and natural heritage. The ARC-WH is a category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO.

Following this visit and its election as a member of the World Heritage Committee, for the first time, in October 2007, the Kingdom of Bahrain decided to launch an action plan for World Heritage by drafting a proposal of establishment of regional centre, in Bahrain, for the reinforcement of the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the Arab Region.

This proposal was presented on 29 January 2008 to the Director-General of UNESCO who welcomed its principle and the suggestion of Bahrain to submit it to the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session. The Director of the World Heritage Centre and the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee also attended the meeting, held at UNESCO Headquarters.

On 19 and 20 February 2008, a consultation meeting was held in Bahrain to develop the proposal presented to the Director-General of UNESCO. Representatives of the World Heritage Centre, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and
Report on the proposal for the establishment WHC-08/32.COM/INF.11B, p. 2 of an Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage.

On 16 December 2010, the Royal Decree 53/2010 was issued and published in the Official Gazette of the Kingdom thus officially instituting the creation of ARC-WH in Bahrain. As per Article XX of the Agreement between UNESCO and the Government of Bahrain, the Agreement shall enter into force following its signature by the contracting parties, when they have informed each other in writing of the completion of the formalities required to that effect by the domestic law of the Kingdom of Bahrain and by UNESCO internal regulations. The entry into force of the Agreement will allow the Ministry of Culture to receive the necessary funds from the Government of Bahrain to launch the establishment of the administrative and financial structures of ARC-WH.

For more information, please visit www.manamaculture2012.bh

For more details about ARC-WH, please e-mail info@archwh.org or call 17001004

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