Supporting Arab documentary heritage preservation

Supporting Documentary Heritage Libraries in the Arab Region

The Middle East and North Africa countries are home to an extraordinary cultural and documentary heritage, both secular and religious, which is of critical importance to the entire world. A contribution to the history of humanity, this rich heritage represents an enormous capacity to inspire the development of the region’s countries. Yet, due to neglect, natural decay, technological obsolescence, inadequate housing or, in some cases, deliberate destruction, valuable archival and library materials that represent the Arab region’s legacy about its history, identity and knowledge face the risk of being lost, destroyed or forgotten about. 

Many of the unique heritage collections, manuscripts and historically significant records, which have survived neglect and disasters, are scattered across different institutions and stakeholders, ranging from heritage libraries to private collectors and government institutions, and remain at risk of loss, inappropriate storage, pollution or decay. Strengthened coordination among these actors would enhance conservation efforts by having a clear understanding of where this heritage can be found, in which conditions and, subsequently, what are the measures that can be put in place to protect and promote it. Preserving the region’s documentary heritage also offers a timely opportunity to highlight the Arab world’s contribution to the world in the field of science, culture, communication and education. 

This 18-month project is launched with the support of Qatar National Library to understand the needs and challenges of heritage libraries in the Arab region in order to build their capacities and strengthen exchange of knowledge and information so they can further preserve and promote documentary heritage. 

UNESCO, the only UN agency mandated with safeguarding cultural heritage and access to information, works extensively to ensure that the world’s documentary heritage belongs to all, is preserved and protected all and is permanently accessible to all without hindrance and with due recognition of cultural customs and practicalities. The project is in line with UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme and 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 the Digital Form.

Project Partner

Qatar National Library

As the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Regional Center for the Arab Countries and the Middle East, Qatar National Library plays a vital role in addressing some of the issues listed above pertaining to preservation of documentary heritage. Through capacity-building with regional heritage libraries, increased access to information with Qatar Digital Library, digitization and awareness raising efforts on the importance of documentary heritage, Qatar National Library is a key international and regional actor to support the preservation and promotion of documentary heritage in the Arab region.



UNESCO launches survey to identify needs of documentary heritage institutions and collectors in the Arab region


Book and manuscript conservators from the Arab region trained in Oman 


Call for application: Training Course on "practical methods for the scientific examination of library objects" in Muscat


QNL and UNESCO organize training course for conservation specialists in the Arab region


QNL and UNESCO to Support Documentary Heritage Preservation in the Arab Region


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