The UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the UNESCO Office for the Maghreb (Rabat) and the Ministry of Culture of the Kingdom of Morocco, with the support of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH), are organizing a meeting which will focus on the issue of preservation of the commonly called heritage of "architectural and urban modernities" in the Arab world. This meeting will bring together experts, mostly from the Arab world, who will pursue discussions begun at a first meeting held at UNESCO Headquarters in December 2012.
The Arab states conducted the second cycle of Periodic Reporting between 2008 and 2010 and developed a Regional Programme (2012-2016) aiming at strengthening the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the region. This programme invites States Parties to review their Tentative Lists to include new types of cultural and natural properties. The meetings which allowed elaborating the Regional Programme revealed an interest for the architectural and urban heritage described as "modern", which is new in the region in the framework of the Convention. Indeed, the modern architectural and urban heritage doesn’t not appear in the concerned countries’ Tentative Lists.
This thematic programme is based on two important antecedents. In 2001, the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and DOCOMOMO launched an initiative called the "Modern Heritage Programme", which aims to document and promote the architectural and urban heritage of the 19th and 20th centuries. This type of heritage was considered as underrepresented on the World Heritage List and potentially threatened by the aggressive urban development that characterizes some parts of the world. Based on the same concerns, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted, in November 2011, the "Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape" which marked an important step towards the protection of the built cultural heritage, through the integration of conservation related policies and practices in objectives of urban development.
The programme aims to reveal the heritage of architectural and urban modernities that still exists in the Arab world and to highlight its value in order to preserve it as part of the heritage of the countries to which it belongs. Establishing a "map" of the elements that form this heritage in the Arab world and placing them under one auspice would bring attention to them and facilitate protecting them by having the countries which are supposed to be their depositories recognizing them as national heritage. The management of these sites would then be supervised and/or conducted by qualified experts, who could benefit from a network of specialists in the Arab world and beyond.
The second expert meeting will be held from 27 to 29 May 2013, in Rabat (Kingdom of Morocco), the first city of the Arab world to be inscribed on the World Heritage List (2012) under the name of "Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City: a Shared Heritage", based on the exceptional value of its modern architectural and urban heritage.
The conclusions of this meeting will define the framework of the further development of this programme and of the activities to be implemented. The results will be officially presented to the States Parties of the region in view of an institutional support to this initiative and to the activities which will carry it.