08.12.2016 - UNESCO Office in Doha

UNESCO supports launch of GCC Memory of the World Committee

Oman National Museum

To support preservation of documentary heritage from the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and highlight the cultural treasures of the region, a GCC Memory of the World Committee was launched by delegations from the GCC with the support of UNESCO and renown international independent experts, following the organisation of a three-day workshop on “Strengthening the Memory of the World in the GCC” co-organized by UNESCO Doha and the Oman National Commission to UNESCO from 5-7 December 2016 in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.

The workshop was the first of its kind to be organized in the region, following the adoption of the first-ever standard-setting instrument on the protection of the world’s documentary heritage, UNESCO’s Recommendation Concerning the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage Including in Digital Form, unanimously adopted by UNESCO’s Member States at the 38th session of the General Conference in November 2015.

The objectives of the meeting were to present, promote and set forth cooperation priorities among the countries of the GCC as to how to implement UNESCO’s new normative instrument and identify priority areas for actions based on regional and national contexts.

Delegations from Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE attended the workshop during which they presented national initiatives on preservation of documentary heritage and discussed potential new nominations to the Memory of the World International Register.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Iskra Panevska, Senior Programme Specialist at UNESCO Communication and Information Sector and Secretariat for the Memory of the World Programme, said that “documentary heritage holds much of our personal and social memory, and is therefore essential to identity and belonging. This heritage provides an anchor in a world of change, reflecting the great diversity of expressions, this is why it must be preserved and shared as part of our common heritage.”

“As organizations working in the field of culture and heritage, we need to work together to ensure that the world's invaluable documentary heritage belongs to all,” she added.

Abdullah Al Gafri, head of the Memory of the World National Committee of Oman, highlighted that the key result of this meeting was the opening of dialogue and further cooperation between the countries of the GCC and the creation of a GCC Memory of the World Committee and also expressed hope that the dialogue initiated in Muscat will continue through the implementation of the meeting’s recommendations.

Ahmad Al Mansoori, Founder and Director of the Crossroads of Civilization Museum, speaking on behalf of all participants, acknowledged the role of the Memory of the World programme in preserving documentary heritage and its positive impacts on humanity and called for stronger cultural cooperation between GCC countries to reinforce solidarity between nations and transfer knowledge about the region’s heritage to present and future generations.

His Excellency Salem bin Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage of the Sultanate of Oman, attended the closing ceremony and thanked all participants for their active dedication and participation in the workshop.

The Memory of the World Programme was launched by UNESCO in 1992 to protect documentary heritage and ensure that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, is preserved and protected for all and is permanently accessible to all without hindrance and with due recognition of cultural customs and practicalities. 

The Memory of the World Register was therefore created to list documentary heritage recommended by the International Advisory Committee and endorsed by the Director-General of UNESCO, according to strict selection criteria regarding world significance and outstanding universal value. Currently, there are 348 items from across the world inscribed on the Register.

According to UNESCO, documentary heritage is defined as a document “which records something with a deliberate intellectual purpose” and is mobile, consisting of signs/codes, sounds and/or images, can be conserved, reproduced and transported, and is the result of a deliberate documentation process. 

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