From June 24th to July 4th of 2018, took place the 42nd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in the Kingdom of Bahrain. This session brought together 139 countries and over 2000 experts in cultural and natural heritage.
Originally, the idea, of building a collection of the most extraordinary architectural and artistic works, comes from the list of the Seven Wonders of the World. These are works from the ancient world located between the Middle East and Europe; from the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt to the Colossus of Rhodes in Greece.
Created in 1976, the committee inscribed the first sites on the World Heritage list in 1978. This recognition comes from the sites themselves and also the means implemented to preserve the cultural and natural sites.
Since 1997, these sites are no longer the only ones to integrate the list of the committee, since the concept of oral and intangible heritage is defined. In 2001, a first intangible masterpiece is inscribed on the site.
Celebrate culture in Bahrain
This session also highlighted some of the state sites of the Middle East. By bringing the committee to Bahrain for the first time, UNESCO demonstrates the importance accessioning new states. Bahrain has only been present on the committee for four years and yet this is the recognition of the work started on its heritage by the authorities for culture and antiquities:
“Everyone is proud of Bahrain’s accession to the World Heritage Committee for the next four years and its presidency this year … With the signing of the World Heritage Committee hosting agreement, we are reaping the fruits of years of continuous efforts to strengthen Bahrain’s position on the map of regional and global cultural centers.”
The organizer for Bahrain, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO and former ambassador of Bahrain in France.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is an archipelago of 33 islands with 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Bahrain Pearl Activities and Fort Qal’at Al Bahrain. In conjunction with the 42nd Session of the World Cultural Committee, the Authority of Culture has developed a program to celebrate the designation of the city of Al Muharraq as the “Capital of Islamic Culture for 2018”.
Culture and impacts on the territories
This great international event is a unique and annual moment to bring together World Heritage specialists. Thus, they have their experiences and consult for the protection of the heritage and culture. In addition, two forums were hosted by the Kingdom on the sidelines of the 42nd session: the Forum of Young World Heritage Professionals and the World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum 2018. In this logic of study and exchange, the reflections on heritage conservation and the impacts of a classification are topical.
The creation of the “Arab Regional Center for World Heritage
The Kingdom’s involvement extends beyond its territory for the preservation of the Arab heritage, with the creation of the “Arab Regional Center for World Heritage” (ARC-WH). Recognized as UNESCO, this center was created in 2010 as part of the World Heritage Convention in Arab countries. The center works for 19 Arab countries for the promotion of natural and cultural sites (expertise, logistical assistance or financial support).
In conjunction with the 42nd Session of the World Cultural Committee, the Authority of Culture has developed a program to celebrate the designation of the city of Al Muharraq as the “Capital of Islamic Culture for 2018”.
The next session of the World Heritage Committee will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2019. A new destination to celebrate World Heritage!