Preserving cultural heritage helps rebuild society after conflict, says UAE official
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak speaks on Monday at the Forum on Conservation of Sites in Conflict Zones in Abu Dhabi. – Photos provided
Senior local and international officials emphasized the importance of heritage sites and called on countries to work together to protect, preserve and restore cultural and natural heritage, especially in areas of war or civil unrest.
On Monday, Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) and the International Alliance for the Preservation of Heritage in Conflict Areas (Aliph) organized a forum on the protection of heritage sites in conflict areas. In his keynote address at the forum, Mohammad Khalifa Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi and Vice-Chairman of the Aliph Foundation, said: “Monuments, museums and sites in conflict zones have been extensively damaged. Preserving cultural heritage can help Rebuilding societies is, in some cases, critical to economic recovery, security and stability.
“Reconstructing sites destroyed by war or acts of terrorism is very important.”
Mubarak noted that the UAE understands the strength of the past, as history and heritage lay the foundations for the present and the future.
“We are committed to preserving and protecting heritage in tangible and intangible forms for future generations,” he said.
The two-day forum brought together the governance members of the Aliph Foundation and representatives of its partners and provided an opportunity to review actions taken since 2017 and address key challenges facing heritage conservation in conflict areas.
The UAE is a founding member of the Aliph Foundation, which funds the restoration and restoration of human heritage in conflict zones around the world.
“Today, Aliph is responsible for protecting cultural sites in impoverished areas and war zones, and over its six-year history it has played a central role in funding and supporting more than 180 projects in 31 countries on four continents,” said Al Mubarak.
“We are very proud of Aliph’s journey so far and hope to see greater international mobilization in this direction.”
Countries whose heritage sites are mainly affected by conflict or war include Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, etc.
Krista Pikkat, Director of the Culture and Emergencies Entity of UNESCO’s Culture Sector, said it was important to preserve heritage for future generations in order to build a better world.
“In a world of growing divide, we need to build bridges, bring people closer and celebrate diversity and diversity,” she said.
Aliph executive director Valery Freland said historic landmarks, living heritage and natural sites “enrich our everyday lives in countless ways, whether we experience them directly or through connected devices.”
He added: “Cultural diversity and creativity are natural drivers of innovation. In many ways, artists, creators and performers help us change the way we think about the world and rethink our environment. (including the climate change crisis).”
Freland also emphasized the importance of rebuilding sites destroyed by war or acts of terrorism because of its value in restoring the people living in these areas by creating jobs and restoring their heritage for sustainable economies and societies develop.
The idea of establishing a fund to restore, rebuild and rehabilitate heritage in war-torn areas took root at the Endangered Heritage Conference in Abu Dhabi in December 2016. Three months later, Aliph was born in March 2017 at the initiative of the UAE, France with the support of UNESCO. Since then, several other countries and private partners have joined the initiative and supported the financing of nearly 200 projects in 31 countries on four continents.
During the organization’s second donor conference at the Louvre in Paris in 2022, international governments, private donors and foundations pledged nearly $90 million for Aliph’s next five-year cycle.
Aliph’s three areas of intervention are: preventive conservation to limit the risk of damage, emergency measures to ensure heritage safety, and post-conflict actions to enable local populations to once again enjoy their cultural heritage.