Story

Building a Positive Identity through Cultural Heritage – the Story of Mohamed Ali

Mohamed Ali is the founder and executive director of Digital Cultural eXperience, a startup using virtual experiences to raise awareness among young people on cultural diversity and heritage. With the support of the UNESCO-UNOCT Project on the Prevention of Violent Extremism, he recently developed a web and mobile application named "World Heritage Sites in Tunisia", featuring an interactive map, engaging audio guides and 360° pictures to promote the 7 cultural World Heritage sites of the country in an inclusive and youth-engaging format. To him, heritage is a powerful tool to build a community’s identity, thus reinforcing its sense of belonging and its resilience towards extremist threats.
Heritage builds bridges between communities and people from different countries"
Mohamed Ali Midani, Tunisia

"Every human being needs to feel rooted in their culture and society. “Who am I?” is one of the most difficult questions to answer. If you know who you are and are proud of it, then you are firmly rooted, and no one can uproot you or brainwash you with dark and fundamentalist ideas. However, if a person can’t answer this question, it becomes easier for extremist groups to take advantage of their vulnerability.

The best way to answer to the questions “Who am I?” or “Who are you?” is to have an extensive knowledge of your tangible and intangible heritage. The tangible heritage is a physical representation and an undeniable proof of the history and past of your civilization. The intangible heritage is equally important to build your personality and your identity.

Being aware of your Heritage makes you more comfortable with yourself, especially when you come from a country facing hard challenges like war and poverty. It also opens your mind to other cultures and makes you a more tolerant person. How can you respect others if you don’t respect yourself? How can you accept others’ culture if you don’t know yours?

How we feel about ourselves and how we feel about others determine the nature of our relationships: it can go from a peaceful relationship to a conflictual one. In this matter, heritage is like a vaccine that immunizes us against obscurantism and individualism. Heritage builds bridges between communities and between people from different countries. It is the root of tolerance."

- Mohamed Ali Midani

 

Mohamed Ali’s application is accessible in three languages - English, French and Arabic. 

Visit the web application here.

Visit the mobile application here.

Following the success of the Arab World Heritage Young Professionals Forum, and continuing their sense of engagement and purpose beyond the participation in the Forum, five young professionals implemented follow-up projects in the region, making heritage accessible to all, and leveraging it as a channel for peacebuilding in the communities. Through these projects, the participants put to practice the skills acquired during the Forum, particularly through the communication approaches, and took concrete actions towards the recommendations made by them in the Action Plan for the region.