The culmination of the international conference “Opportunities for Heritage” Closing Session

The culmination of the international conference “Opportunities for Heritage” was marked by the Closing Session, led by Dr. Heba Aziz, Conference President and UNESCO Chair holder, who welcomed the participants to the last formal session at the closing ceremony.   Dr. Humaid Al Nofli, Director of the Culture Sector at the Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO), delivered the keynote address on “The Future of Heritage.” He emphasized the importance of making heritage sustainable for future generations, particularly in the Arab region, which boasts rich historical and cultural significance.

Dr. Al Nofli highlighted the challenges facing heritage preservation in the Arab world, including intentional destruction of heritage sites, looting, natural disasters, and climate change. He outlined efforts by ALECSO to support conservation and restoration projects, raise awareness, and strengthen legal frameworks for heritage protection. The league collaborates with international institutions and promotes heritage conservation as integral to economic development and peace-building.

The conference underscored the urgent need for concerted efforts to safeguard heritage in the Arab world. Dr. Heba Aziz reiterated the commitment of the UNESCO Chair to support such endeavors and announced the conference’s annual recurrence in different Arab countries.

The conference’s focus on diverse aspects of cultural heritage provided a platform for networking and knowledge exchange among scholars, experts, and policymakers. It emphasized the interdisciplinary approach required for effective heritage conservation.

The official closing session was followed by a farewell dinner which took place the iconic Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Al Bustan Palace, during which, Dr. Heba Aziz underscored the importance of inclusivity and community engagement in heritage preservation. She shared draft Communique for the international conference “Opportunities for Heritage”, which took into consideration, many of the comments and idea provided by the conference participants.  The final version of the conference Communique will be shared on the website.

Addressing representatives from various sectors, she emphasized the pivotal role of heritage in socioeconomic development, urging companies and governments to recognize it as a source of identity, inspiration, and sustainable growth for future generations.

In response to the conference’s findings, the UNESCO Chair announced several initiatives. These include launching a program aimed at engaging communities through two main components: “Design for Heritage” and “Entrepreneurship for Heritage.” Additionally, efforts will continue in the digitalization of heritage projects, supporting youth involvement through competitions, and allocating remaining funds to facilitate young students and colleagues’ participation in European summer schools focusing on heritage.

Expressing gratitude to the conference sponsors and strategic partners, Dr. Heba Aziz acknowledged their instrumental role in bringing together experts and heritage enthusiasts alike. Special thanks were extended to OMRAN, Bait Al Zubair, Dhofar Tourism Company, and the the ALIPH Foundation for their significant contributions to the success of the event.

Dr. Heba Aziz concluded by expressing hopes to extend the conference’s reach to all 22 Arab countries in future editions, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and shared commitment in preserving our cultural heritage.

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