Oral History for Cultural Heritage Preservation

May 28, 2015

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Group picture of the participants of the Oral History course offered by ATHAR in SharjahUnder the Patronage of HH Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Sharjah, and in collaboration with UCL-Qatar, a one-week introductory training course on Oral History for Cultural Heritage Preservation concluded at the ICCROM-ATHAR Regional Conservation Centre in Sharjah, UAE. This course is part of a short course series titled “Informed Conservation”, aimed at professionals who are looking to expand their working knowledge and experience in the fields of cultural heritage conservation.

This one-week course aimed at building the capacity of conservation professionals in the Arab region in the field of oral history, in order to examine the role of oral history as evidence of cultural heritage. The course explored the “how” and “why” personal narratives of the past are constructed, and demonstrated how interviews are to be conducted and analyzed to help inform decisions for cultural heritage preservation. The fourteen participants that took part in the course include site managers, archaeologists, architects, museum specialists and collections curators.

The course presented the storyteller’s role in safeguarding elements of intangible cultural heritage and in developing current techniques for collecting data through oral history practices, demonstrating how traditions can be passed through conservation work to future generations. The course consisted of interactive, participatory sessions, both theoretical and practical, and included study visits and applied work which helped participants develop their research methodologies and enhance their skills in identifying and collecting data from accurate, reliable sources. Participants in the Oral History for Cultural Heritage Preservation course were exposed to a range of issues including:

  • definition of oral history and how it is different from written history and other research methods for conservation;
  • relationship between oral history and the oral traditions;
  • subjectivity and objectivity in oral history;
  • learning how to make oral history interviews as effective as possible;
  • practical demonstration and trial use of recording equipment; and,
  • analysis and discussion of demonstration interviews.

Stefano De Caro, Director General ICCROM, welcomed the participants at the beginning of the course, expressing the importance of oral history and how documenting it promotes national identity. The course ended with a closing session where certificates of participation were handed out to the participants by Zaki Aslan, Director ICCROM-ATHAR. By the end of the course, participants were able to apply with confidence knowledge relevant to the field of oral history to their heritage conservation work.


  • Thureya Al Bardan
  • Amal Bin Daiban
  • Shehab Al Hefeiti
  • Hayat Al Hosani
  • Suad Al Kalbani
  • Majid Al Maazmi
  • Mohammed Al Matrooshi
  • Fatima Al Muhairi
  • Adel Al Qattan
  • Farah Al Sabah
  • Ammar Al Sanjari
  • Manal Shalo
  • Aisha Al Shamsi
  • Mariam Al Tamimi

Course Team:


  • Rib Davis
  • Fatima Al Muhairi
  • Farah Al Sabah
  • Ammar Al Sanjari


  • Zaki Aslan
  • Shaikha Al Ali
  • Yasmin Hashem
  • Fatma Marii
  • Anwar Sabik
  • Rana Salah


  • John Bull
  • Annie Rowbotham

Member States represented: Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom

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