15.05.2018 - UNESCO Office in Doha

First meeting of the Memory of the World Committee for the Gulf States held in Muscat

©Oman National Commission to UNESCO

Within the framework of UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme and the Organization's mandate to build knowledge societies and preserve cultural heritage, including documentary heritage, the first meeting of the Memory of the World Committee for the Gulf States was organized by the Oman National Commission to UNESCO and UNESCO GCC and Yemen Office in Muscat from 9-10 May 2018.

The first meeting was chaired by Afaf Mohammed Al Hilali, Chair of the Memory of the World Committee for the Gulf States, and attended by members of the Committee from Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar and the Committee's Executive Secretariat, Marion Desmurger from UNESCO GCC and Yemen Office. 

The meeting was held following the creation of the Committee in December 2017 to support preservation of documentary heritage and highlight the cultural treasures of the region.

The agenda was held to review the action plan agreed upon in December 2016  and progress made since then, to discuss the terms of reference and statutes of the Committee and elect the Vice-Chair of the Committee. Farah Ali Sabah Alsalem Al Sabah from Kuwait was elected Vice-Chair of the Committee. 

The members of the Memory of the World Committee for the Gulf States include, Afaf Mohammed Al Hilali from Oman National Commission to UNESCO, Farah Ali Sabah Alsalem Al Sabah from Kuwait National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters, Azza Al-Kaabi from the UAE National Archives, Fidaa Al-Zaidany from Bahrain National Museum, Layla Al Bader from Qatar Ministry of Culture and Sports and Bader Al Malaq from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.  

In addition, recommendations and discussions were held on best practices and steps to follow to set up National Memory of the World Committees in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and UAE. 

It was agreed that all documents pertaining to the establishment of the Committee would be submitted for validation to UNESCO Memory of the World Secretariat and that a webpage would be set up by UNESCO GCC and Yemen Office to increase awareness and visibility about the work of the Committee, including the set up of a Memory of the World Register for the Gulf States.  

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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