The World Heritage site in Bamiyan has received further support today with the Government of the Republic of Korea committing to provide US$5.4 to build a museum and cultural centre. The signing of the agreement saw the participation of H.E. Dr. Sayed Makhdoum Raheen, Minister of Information and Culture, H.E. Mr. Cha Youngcheol, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Afghanistan, and Mr. Paolo Fontani, UNESCO Representative in Afghanistan. H.E. General Ghulam Ali Wahdat, Governor of Bamiyan, and the Director of the National Museum of Afghanistan, Mr. Omra Khan Massoudi also attended the ceremony.
The cultural centre and museum aim to maximize the role that culture can contribute towards nation-building in Afghanistan. Its temporary and permanent exhibitions, training and function rooms will promote the knowledge of Afghan millennial history as a crossroad of different civilizations.
The centre will also run training on traditional skills and handicrafts which provide a number of economic, social and cultural benefits including employment, large scale involvement of women and minorities, generation of off-season employment and the promotion of exports.
The Republic of Korea’s commitment will cover a range of activities including the physical construction of the building, heritage training, creative industries promotion and development, and public education. The first phase of the project is the design and construction of the building that will host the Museum and Cultural Centre.
The project will be implemented within the institutional framework of the various departments of the Ministry of Information and Culture which will chair the Project Steering Committee.
During the ceremony, the Minister of Information and Culture, Dr. Raheen, thanked the government and the people of Korea for their sustained support to rebuilding Afghanistan and emphasised the role that cultural institutions play in preserving cultural heritage in Afghanistan.
Ambassador Cha Youngcheol, who visited the World Heritage property in the Bamiyan Valley two months ago, drew attention to the importance of Bamiyan in the history of Asia and in particular to Korea. In the 8th century the Korean monk Hyecho visited Bamiyan on his travels across India from China. Hyecho documented his journey to Bamiyan, and his manuscript is a valuable piece of information that can provide further insights into the cultural heritage of Bamiyan.
UNESCO Representative, Mr. Fontani, stressed that culture represents an essential element of nation building in every country, and as such has an important role to play in Afghanistan. He added that culture also makes a valuable contribution to socio-economic development, and in the case of Bamiyan it paves the way towards future tourism opportunities and participation of local communities in their own cultural heritage.
Expanding the museum sector outside of Kabul also means that more people can have access to learning about history and culture. The Director of the National Museum of Afghanistan, Mr. Massoudi, said that “the museum will provide an important space to safeguard cultural artefacts in Bamiyan and is also a way for local people to improve their livelihoods through skills training.” Education in cultural heritage will transform citizens into the custodian of their own history. General Ghulam Ali Wahdat, Governor of Bamiyan, thanked the Republic of Korea, highlighting the importance of protecting and promoting the World Heritage Site. He added that a museum in Bamiyan will improve the local economy and the quality of life of the people of Bamiyan by contributing to handicraft training and opening up the province to more national and international tourism.