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A capacity-building project to enrich World Heritage information management tools and techniques in the Arab States Region, from adequate documentation of sites, to use of recording tools, management planning, and information exchange
The objectives are:
- To make available updated information relative to the Convention to World Heritage site managers in the Arab region and the general public; and
- To assist in capacity building on World Heritage information management within the Arab States, including data collection, production of maps and production of monitoring systems, in order to improve the management and the conservation of World Heritage Sites in the region.
The project consists of four core activities:
- The creation and the development of an Arabic language web site on the World Heritage in the Arab Region, in cooperation with the a regional partner (possibly the Al Ain Authority, from the United Arab Emirates);
- The development of, through pilot workshops in the field, of four training modules for the reinforcement of capacity in World Heritage information management;
- The development of a human and scientific resources network (database, list of experts, responsible institutions, bibliography, etc.);
- The organization of a regional workshop in order to present the results of these activities to regional partners, collect their comments and define follows up action.
The World Heritage Convention is the flag-ship of UNESCO's efforts in the conservation of both cultural and natural sites around the World. The convention 'was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972' (WHC 2004). Currently, 'more than 170 countries have adhered to the Convention, making it one of the most universal international legal instruments for the protection of the cultural and natural heritage'.
In the past years, the World Heritage Centre has conducted a series of regional periodic reporting implemented to evaluate the application of the Convention in the protection of the enlisted sites. These reports provided the committee with assessments on 'the legislative and administrative provisions they have adopted and other actions which they (the State Parties) have taken for the application of the Convention, including the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties located on its territories' (Extract of paragraph II.B.69 of the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention).
In the Arab region, this reporting cycle has demonstrated an increasing number of critical issues in implementing the convention and managing world heritage sites, among the most relevant issues revealed:
- Lack of an appropriate long-term management strategy for the protection and conservation of the sites, including periodic condition monitoring (maintenance), periodic values assessments, prevention, and presentation to visitors.
- Lack of capacities in conservation techniques and monitoring activities'
These statements are based on the badly or not existing definition of territorial boundaries and buffer zones of the sites that prevents control of the deterioration factors of the sites (urban expansion, road systems, agriculture etc.). Furthermore, hardly any site has coherent and on-going documentation and monitoring systems' (Extract of paragraph 1.4. Management and conservation of the World Heritage Sites - Document WHC-03/27.COM/INF.20A : Regional Program for the Arab States) .