On 2 June 2022, the Regional Office for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in the Arab States (ICCROM-Sharjah) announced the winning projects of the 3rd ICCROM-Sharjah Award for Good Practices in Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management in the Arab Region, and the 2nd Arab Cultural Heritage Award for the Young. The announcement was made during a high-profile ceremony at the House of Wisdom in Sharjah, UAE, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Supreme Council Member.
2021-2022 Award winners
Grand Prize awardees
HE Manal Ataya, Director-General of the Sharjah Museums Authority and Jury Chairperson for this year’s ICCROM-Sharjah Award, announced the two Grand Prize winners:
- The Beirut Assist Cultural Heritage (BACH) project in Lebanon; and
- The rehabilitation and restoration of residential courtyards and historical buildings in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem, Palestine.
The projects were judged according to their practices in conserving and managing cultural heritage in terms of technical skills employed and the project’s social and economic impacts on local communities.
The jury was impressed by the BACH project’s ability to mobilize individuals and institutions, including civil society, to rescue Beirut’s destroyed urban fabric following the 2020 port blast – including cultural spaces, such as museums, library collections and residential buildings – and redeem the memories these places hold.
The jury was also struck by the Al Aqsa Mosque rehabilitation project’s systematic approach to making an impact on the families living in this historic, yet threatened, area. The project demonstrates the positive effect heritage conservation can have on healing.
Special recognition given to four projects
In addition to the two Grand Prize awardees, the jury awarded special recognition to four additional projects:
- Sheltering and Protecting Hisham's Palace’s Mosaic Floor, Jericho;
- Revitalization and Conservation of the Cultural Heritage of Al Qarara Village, Gaza;
- Digital Documentation of Historical Documents, Jerusalem; and
- Collart-Palmyra: A comprehensive project on the Baalsahamîn temple in Palmyra, Syria.
"We the committee wish to congratulate every project that made it to the shortlist and to thank you all for submitting these outstanding projects, which made this decision process difficult,” HE Ataya said. She emphasized that the jury deliberated at length and considered the projects comprehensively, including aspects such as their “technical execution, sustainability, capacity building, community engagement, and direct social and economic impacts, where applicable.”
Other jury members were Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, Ulrike Al-Khamis, Stefano De Caro, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Salah M Hassan and Jad Tabet.
Honoring last cycle’s Grand Prize winners
Due to COVID restrictions, the Grand Prize winners of the last ICCROM-Sharjah Award for Good Practices in 2020 were not able to have a proper ceremony. For that reason, they were recognized at this year’s awards ceremony. The projects were:
- The Rehabilitation of Souk Al Saqatiya in Aleppo, Syria; and
- Digitizing and First Aid to Documentary Heritage of Manuscripts Collection of the Great Omari Mosque Library in Gaza, Palestine.
Arab Cultural Heritage Award for the Young 2021-2022 winners
We were honored to have several renowned advocates for youth initiate this part of the ceremony. Rima Keirouz Kreidi, President of the Chloe Maria Kreidi Association and Arab Cultural Heritage Award for the Young jury member from Lebanon; Christiane Jeitani, Representative of the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO and National Coordinator of the UNESCO and ALESCO Affiliated Schools Network; and Sultan Al Khalif, Head of the Education Sector and National Coordinator of the UNESCO Associated School Network at the Jordanian National Committee for Education, Culture and Science spoke about the importance of promoting cultural heritage and its preservation in the region’s schools, and the role the arts can play in this.
The jury awarded many school children, as individuals and groups, for their submissions to the 2nd Arab Cultural Heritage Award for the Young, including:
- First place in drawing: Sarah Hassan Al Hosani (Al Amal School for the Deaf, UAE) and Al Yasar Al Masry (Omar Bin Al Khattab College School – Al Makassed Islamic Charitable Association, Lebanon)
- First place in photography: Ghala Abdel Rahim Mahmoud Al Raheel (Bayouda Al Sharqiya Mixed Secondary School, Jordan)
- First place in folk dance: Group performance of “Our Old Street” by Al Takadum School for Basic Education (Libya)
- First place in film: Group project “A Story of Joy from the Heart of the Badia” by Qasr Al Hallabat Al Gharbi Mixed Secondary School (Jordan)
The Arab Cultural Heritage Award for the Young 2021-2022 jury members were Alya Burhima, Sharifa Nofa Bint Nasser, Rima Keirouz Kreidi and Zaki Aslan.
Strengthening regional relations
The ceremony was well-attended by regional ministries, cultural institutions, diplomatic representatives and participants. Director of ICCROM-Sharjah Zaki Aslan welcomed all dedication attendees and distinguished guests, including: HH Ruler of Sharjah; UAE Minister of Culture and Youth HE Noura Al Kaabi; and Ambassador for Culture for the Arab League's Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALESCO) HE Sheikha Al Yazia bint Nahyan Al Nahyan.
Also in attendance were Chairman of the Sharjah Ruler's Office HE Sheikh Salem bin Abdulrahman Al Qasimi; Chairman of the Department of Community Development HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Humaid Al Qasimi; Syrian Ambassador to the UAE HE Dr Ghassan Abbas; President of the Ismaili Community in the UAE Aziz Merchant; among the many prominent figures and experts interested in cultural heritage.
In his opening remarks, ICCROM Council Chairperson John Robbins expressed ICCROM’s gratitude for His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah’s patronage and for the UAE’s continual support, stating:
“[…] Please allow us, Your Highness, to express ICCROM’s gratitude to your patronage of this event and all our other activities in this part of the World, led by what has become another beacon of knowledge: the ICCROM-Sharjah Regional Office that is supported by your vision and hosted in a place of culture and education: Sharjah. We are equally grateful to our host country, the UAE, for providing every possible visibility to ICCROM-Sharjah activities regionally and internationally.”
Zaki Aslan closed out the ceremony by echoing Robbins’ words of appreciation for HH the Ruler of Sharjah and his efforts to support of ICCROM-Sharjah's initiatives and programmes.
"When we launched this award five years ago, our goal was to spread the culture of cultural heritage preservation in the region, within international standards and foundations, by introducing good initiatives implemented at the Arab level, which contribute to stimulating the protection and revival of the tangible cultural heritage in a way that international methodologies are adopted within the societal context and sustainable development. We aspire to highlight and honor these initiatives in line with their excellence in the region and the world.”
Aslan also recognized the joint efforts that have catapulted the Awards to unforeseen heights, and declared ICCROM’s commitment to continually scale up the Awards.
"In a few years, the ICCROM-Sharjah Award for Good Practices has transformed, grown and developed, thanks to the significant cooperation with the jury appointed in each cycle, into one of the most prestigious awards in the Arab world, especially in this field. As we are pleased for such achievement, we also feel the obligation to maintain the growth and development of the award and to reach new distinguished projects in the Arab region, just like those shortlisted in the current cycle... From this podium, I assure you that the ICCROM-Sharjah office will spare no effort to advance these two awards, year after year, in line with the challenges the Arab region is witnessing.”
We at ICCROM congratulate this year’s winners and thank everyone who participated in the 2021-2022 ICCROM-Sharjah Awards – whether you submitted a project, provided remarks at the ceremony or simply followed along online to cheer on the competitors. We are already looking forward to the next cycle!