09.05.2016 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

Start of the technical workshop on “Baalbek and Tyre Archaeological Project” under the patronage of the Minister of Culture

(From right) Mr. Kreidi and Dr. Al-Hammami from UNESCO, with Minister Araygi, Dr. Charaf-El-Din, and Dr. Dalmasso during the launching ceremony © UNESCO Beirut 2016

Under the patronage of HE Minister of Culture Raymond Araygi, and on the occasion of the launch of the second phase of the conservation and restoration works in Baalbek and Tyre World heritage sites, UNESCO Office in Beirut, in partnership with the Lebanese Council of Development Reconstruction (CDR) launched today, Monday 9 May 2016, a technical workshop, organized in cooperation with the Directorate General of Antiquities and the Italian development cooperation agency. The workshop aims to discuss conservation and restoration works to take place in archaeological sites in Baalbek and Tyre, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1984.

Held UNESCO Office in Beirut, this workshop brings together experts in charge of restoration and conservation works in the two sites, with international specialists from the International Council Of Monuments Sites (ICOMOS), active in the field of conservation and restoration of monuments, in addition to local experts from the Directorate General of Antiquities, the CDR, and UNESCO with the aim to discuss planned restoration procedures to be performed in Baalbek and Tyre, and ensure to adapt the most recent methods to protect and safeguard these two historical icons, according to international standards for conservation and restoration. This workshop continues till 12 may 2016 and features field visits to Baalbek and Tyre.

The launching ceremony was attended by Minister of Culture HE Raymond Araygi; Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States Dr Hamed Al-Hammami; Culture Programme Officer in UNESCO Office in Beirut; Engineer Joseph Kreidi; President of the CDR Mr. Nabil Al-Jisr, represented by the Director of the Funding Division in the Council Dr. Wafa Sharaf El-din; Secretary General of the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO Professor Zahida Darwish Jabbour; General Director of Antiquities in the Ministry of Culture, architect Sarkis Khoury; Dr Ana Dalmasso representing the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, as well as representatives from the World Bank, and consultants and contractors in charge of the implementation of this project.

Local officials from Baalbek and Tyre also attended this event.

More than 30 experts will participate in this four-day workshop.

Following the Lebanese National Anthem, and during his opening statement, Mr. Kreidi welcomed all participants in this event, praising the constructive cooperation between the various parties to organize this workshop. Mr. Kreidi announced that this technical workshop is one of a series of workshops to be held under the framework of an agreement signed between CDR and UNESCO, in the context of the UNESCO Documentation and Advisory Service (UDAS) project. Under this agreement, UNESCO will provide technical support required for the Directorate General of Antiquities, to enable it to carry out restoration and conservation works in the sites of Baalbek and Tyre according to international standards, with the support of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. UNESCO Culture programme Officer concluded by expressing his hopes for this workshop to contribute in diffusing the spirit of cooperation among all parties concerned, in order for them to ensure the ideal protection of world heritage sites in Lebanon, particularly Baalbek and Tyre.

In his speech, Director of UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut, Dr. Hamed Al-Hammami, also welcomed experts and officials attending this event. UNESCO Director praised the efforts made by different institutions involved in this project in order to ensure the protection and safeguarding of archaeological monuments in Baalbek and Tyre according to international standards, while also taking into consideration the authenticity and uniqueness of each location and its exceptional values that led to their inclusion on UNESCO World Heritage list.

Dr. Al-Hammami highlighted UNESCO role in supporting the Directorate General of Antiquities, confirming that “UNESCO, and particularly through its Office in Beirut, has always been a bond booster to the Directorate General of Antiquities throughout its efforts to preserve national heritage, as well as world heritage in Lebanon”. "On one hand, UNESCO's commitment with the Ministry of Culture stems from the commitment of all parties involved today in the 1972 World Heritage Convention. While, on the other hand, this commitment is inspired by UNESCO keenness on constant communication and coordination with the Lebanese Government in order to ensure the optimum protection for our common heritage, and pass it safely to future generations”, he added. Dr. Hammami concluded his speech by thanking the Minister of Culture for attending and sponsoring this workshop.

Speaking on this occasion, HE Minister Raymond Arayji stressed the importance of the communication and coordination among all stakeholders, given the seriousness and high complexity of the restoration actions to be performed in Baalbek and Tyre, and the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture towards the World Heritage Centre. "Judging from the responsibility assumed by the Ministry of Culture – Directorate General of Antiquities towards the national heritage on one hand and global institutions on another, particularly the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the Ministry and the Directorate General has taken this decision to have independent experts to assist in the process of restoring these two World Heritage sites, that we are entitled to protect on behalf of humanity. This major responsibility must not be underestimated. In the end, we are the ones responsible for our own heritage, and the space of freedom in our choices and decisions should reflect this great responsibility that we have towards this heritage".

Finally, Minister Arayji asked for all the parties to discuss, brainstorm, and come out with the most appropriate solutions that could be adopted to preserve world heritage sites, wishing everyone a productive workshop.

During the first day of this workshop, participants attended a series of presentations and panel discussions facilitated by international experts, with the aim to introduce them to the goals of this project, its various dimensions, and the expected results of the restoration works planned in Baalbek and Tyre.

The workshop also features two field visits: the first to take place tomorrow, Tuesday 10 May, to the archaeological site of Tyre, and the second on Wednesday, May 11th to Baalbek.

A final session will take place in the UNESCO Office in Beirut on Thursday, 12 May/June 2016.

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