Sharjah: HH Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on Sunday opened the Sharjah Heritage Institute (SHI), which houses ICCROM-ATHAR (Architectural and Archaeological Tangible Heritage in the Arab Region), a regional conservation centre founded by the Rome-based ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property).
Sheikh Sultan also unveiled a memorial plaque detailing the opening of the Institute, which coincides with the selection of Sharjah as the capital of Islamic Culture 2014, and then toured various areas of the Institute, whose design was inspired from Islamic architecture. The Institutes has four galleries and exhibitions, all centred on Arab and Islamic heritage and civilization, as well as works of students from the American University of Sharjah and paintings depicting heritage and culture, having been created by students from the schools.
The Ruler of Sharjah was also briefed on the mission and diverse training programmes and services provided by ICCROM Sharjah.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Abdul Aziz Al Musalam, Chairman of SHI, paid tribute to Sheikh Sultan for his pioneering cultural and heritage initiatives.
”SHI is one of the latest mega-projects launched by Sheikh Sultan and coincides with the opening of ICCROM Sharjah, coming from a longstanding partnership between the Government of Sharjah and ICCROM beginning in the 1990s, to provide professional training programmes aimed at enhancing conservation practices and recognition of professional accomplishments in the Arab World. HH allocated a permanent building for ICCROM Sharjah at the SHI,” he said.
Stefano De Caro, Director-General of ICCROM, in his address, expressed his delight at having an ICCROM branch in Sharjah, the capital of Islamic Culture 2014, noting this is the first of its kind outside Rome.
Representatives of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALESCO) and Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), and Dr. Zaki Aslan, Director of ICCROM-ATHAR, also spoke at the opening.
ICCROM-ATHAR works to meet priority preservation needs of heritage in the Arab region, eventually ensuring its long-term protection through development work for professionals employed at various heritage institutions in the Arab region. These professionals also have the task to work among various sectors to integrate heritage as an essential area for sustainable development.
The new Centre, from its location in University City, will continue its efforts to address emerging needs in the region, as well as focusing on needs that the professional community can develop to safeguard and recover the region’s endangered cultural inheritance.
Sharjah remains enthusiastic in supporting all initiatives aimed at preserving heritage. Moreover, it has numerous heritage-oriented initiatives and projects of its own, not to mention its many historic sites, museums and old houses, which still pulsate with the spirit of the past.
Sharjah is a beacon in the world of culture, archaeology and heritage, pointing to the significant role of cultural heritage institutions, which lay the foundations for heritage conservation.
ICCROM-ATHAR will improve conservation work in Sharjah, the UAE and neighbouring countries by providing technical advice on issues related to heritage conservation, management and planning, noted officials.