Manama, July 5, (Bahrain Now), written by Kashmeera Sambamurthy
COUNTRY: “HERITAGE IS MY BLOOD”
World Heritage Young Professionals Forum 2018, which began on the 24th of June, opened its doors to not just wide discussions from the four corners for the preservation of heritage sites, but measures to inscribe, and to manage them once listed. The forum witnessed the youth from 30 countries who represented different cultures and traditions, where they spent a week absorbing theoretical knowledge and putting the knowledge into practice at Qalaat Al Bahrain and the Bahrain Pearling Trail.
Spilling beans on the Forum, the President of Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, Dr. Mounir Bouchnaki said, “Widely adopted by the World Heritage Committee since 2004, this Forum is a tradition that brings young intellectuals from different parts of the world to address issues submitted to the committee that challenged the protection of heritage sites, their inscription on the World Heritage list and the challenges they face and would face in the future.” Designing for long distance expectations, the management is in talks with the launch of another programme by UNESCO, ‘Heritage in the hands of Young People’, that would widen the curtains for primary and secondary school kids where they would be seen presenting on World Heritage Committee from A-Z.
Speaking widely about the war-torn countries and the modus operandi for preserving their treasure, the President of BACA added, “Unfortunately, in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and various others, the ambiance is riddled by internal crisis, and preserving the sites at the time of conflict is a big challenge. When Her Excellency, Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa established the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, she gave permission to her colleagues to address these issues at the Centre.” He further said, “We have extensive contacts with Iraqis and we have an expert from Iraq who is temporarily working with colleagues in Bahrain on the techniques for preserving the culture of Iraq. So, in this case, we are working for preserving them and the steps to revive them back.”
There is always a fear looming for the negative to strike back, when positive changes are on the road of implementation for protecting the sites from danger. Talking about the situation if repeated strike of war may spoil the implementation
plans of UNESCO, Bouchnaki added by saying, “If seen from the legal point of view, one of the UNESCO treaties was the Hague convention adopted in 1954. Poland that was badly damaged in the 2nd World War, the next step by the polish government was the restoration of its heritage sites, and it is very terrible experience for countries to be subjected to terrible crisis. Despite the fear of war striking back, we must keep in mind that, heritage is the pride of a country and when people return, spotting their heritage sites in shambles is not a great feeling and our toes should be active in preserving our pride from harm.”
When asked about he expected the heritage sites to look like after 5 years, he ended by highlighting, “Establishing priorities isn’t easy and this is not possible in one go. Having worked in Lebanon at the end of the internal conflict with Taif agreement in 1991, there was a discussion with the authorities of heritage sites for the ways to restore faith in people. That faith we found in the reopening of the National Museum of Beirut that was badly damaged due to the internal conflict. Today, the scenario is completely different, and the museum is a vision of beauty for several. This is one example UNESCO and I wish that it prevails in every other war-torn country in the next 5 years.”