The forum was organized by ICCROM-Sharjah in cooperation with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) and the Sharjah Institute for Heritage, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah.
Starting in 2018, the Arab Forum for Cultural Heritage was created to develop philosophical principles and approaches based on local and regional perceptions aimed at promoting and preserving cultural heritage in the Arab world. This year's forum focused on five main themes presented and discussed by regional and international stakeholders and experts in built heritage:
- the notion of built environments (Omran);
- the importance of the culture of built heritage in enhancing communities’ role in sustaining cultural heritage;
- cultural preparedness as a tool for the resilience of heritage;
- community-based adaptation and culture-based resilience; and
- integrating sociocultural dimensions into cultural heritage policies to achieve cohesion, inclusiveness and equality while sustaining and preserving historic environments.
For three days, the participants exchanged perspectives and debated approaches to complex challenges. The forum concluded with a session dedicated to sharing results and recommendations and their next steps for implementation.
ICCROM Director-General Dr Webber Ndoro stated, "We hope that this debate and discussion between the participants will continue in the future, and I call on this occasion to all participants, as well as ICCROM-Sharjah, to continue this communication and constructive exchange."
Dr Zaki Aslan, Director of ICCROM-Sharjah, concluded the forum by emphasizing the importance of these recommendations and the need to discuss, follow up and implement them further in coordination with local, regional and international partners. He stressed the importance of the culture of the built environment (Omran) in preserving cultural heritage and enhancing its resilience to face the challenges of the current period.
"This forum is a significant opportunity to engage a wide range of regional and international experts and experiences. At this stage, we must take advantage of this opportunity and continue the meeting and discussion to reach the final results and recommendations that would unify our efforts to address the challenges facing cultural heritage in the Arab region,” Dr Zaki Aslan said.
At the end of the forum, Dr John Robbins, Chairperson of ICCROM Council, and Dr Webber Ndoro honoured Dr Zaki Aslan in recognition of the efforts he made in 20 years in service of cultural heritage in the region. In turn, Dr Aslan expressed his gratitude for this honour and thanked the Chairperson and Director of ICCROM as well as all colleagues who accompanied him during this period and contributed to achieving this success.
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On the sidelines of the forum, the 4th cycle of the ICCROM-Sharjah Award for Good Practices in Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management in the Arab Region (2023-2024) and the 3rd cycle of the Arab Cultural Heritage Award for the Young were announced.
Participants are invited to submit their projects starting from 30 June 2023, and the winning projects will be announced in the fall of 2024.