HE Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, addressed the second donors’ conference of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH).
The conference took place at the Louvre Museum in Paris yesterday under the patronage of the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, who opened the event via videoconferencing.
HE Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi and Vice-Chair of the ALIPH Foundation Board, also joined the conference virtually. A number of high profile global figures including Jean-Yves le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, France; Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, European Commission; Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Culture, Saudi Arabia; Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan, Chair of the ALIPH Foundation Board; and Jack Lang, President of the Institute du Monde Arabe and Former Minister and Special Representative of the President of the French Republic for ALIPH, delivered opening speeches at the event, in the presence of ALIPH’s donors and partners.
The event also hosted representatives of ALIPH’s donors, including Katja Keul, Minister of State, Federal Foreign Office of Germany; Sarkis El-Khoury, Director-General of Antiquities, Lebanon; Selma Kassem, Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, Bahrain; Li Qun, Administrator of the National Administration of Cultural Heritage, Representative of the Chinese Government (videoconference); Mohamed Mehdi Bensaïd, Minister of Youth, Culture and Communication (videoconference); and Salim Mohammed Al-Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism.
The conference aimed to adopt a new strategy for the upcoming period from 2023-2027 and reaffirm political and financial support for this initiative. The UAE committed to donate US$20 million in support of the foundation’s ongoing and future projects in the region as well as around the world up to the year 2027.
HE Noura Al Kaabi said, “The UAE is a founding member of this extraordinary initiative that funds the restoration and rehabilitation of humanity’s heritage sites in conflict zones across the world. We are very proud of ALIPH’s journey so far and hope to see even greater international mobilisation in this direction. We are committed to safeguarding and protecting the heritage in both tangible and intangible forms. Our visionary leaders have inspired us to take pride in our history and our roots and also taught us to embrace the cultures of the world. We believe that staying connected to our roots is the first step towards building a strong future. We also believe in preserving heritage for future generations in order to build a better world. In a world with growing disparities, we need to build bridges to bring people closer and celebrate diversity and pluralism.“
In her speech, Al Kaabi applauded the role of ALIPH and shed light on restoration projects undertaken by the UAE in Iraq including the ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ project which the UAE is executing in partnership with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
She stressed the importance of rebuilding of heritage sites destroyed by war or acts of terrorism, for the value it holds in terms of rehabilitating the people living in those areas by means of creating job opportunities and by restoring their legacy leading to sustainable economic and social development.
The idea of a fund to restore, reconstruct and rehabilitate heritage of war-torn regions took root at a conference on heritage in danger held in Abu Dhabi in December 2016. Three months later ALIPH was born in March 2017 at the initiative of the UAE and France with the support of UNESCO. Since then, several other countries and private partners have joined the initiative and supported in the financing of nearly 150 projects in 30 countries on four continents.
At the time of its launch, Geneva-based ALIPH was supported by seven donor countries including the UAE, France, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Luxembourg, China and Morocco, along with three private donors – Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan, the Foundation Gandur pour l’Art, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The foundation secured an amount of US$80 million at the first donors’ conference held in 2017. In the last five years, ALIPH has supported some of the greatest cultural heritage treasures of humanity, such as, the Tomb of Askia in Mali, the museums of Mosul (Iraq) and Raqqa (North-East Syria), the Minaret of Jam and the Bala Hissar Citadel (Afghanistan), as well as the Arch of Ctesiphon (Iraq). The alliance also funded the rehabilitation work on the Museum of Civilization in Côte d’Ivoire, the Sondondo Valley in Peru, Agadez in Niger, Ghadamès in Libya, Adulis in Eritrea, Ta’izz in Yemen, and also Koh Ker in Cambodia. It has been instrumental in safeguarding the interests of religious minorities in conflict zones and has proactively mobilised resources in the face of emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the port of Beirut explosions.