UNESCO International Silk Roads Network begins

The fourth Meeting of the UNESCO International Silk Roads Network began at the Oman National Museum under the patronage of Dr Madiha Ahmed al Shibani, Minister of Education.

The Advisor to the Minister of Heritage, Hassan Mohammed al Lawati while welcoming the representatives of international network of UNESCO and other dignitaries reflected on Oman’s participation in retracing the Silk Route from 1980s to 1990s.  The gathering was also adressed by Anna Paolini, Director of the UNESCO regional Office in Doha and Wang Xiaofeng, Member of the ministry Leadership- Ministry of Culture and Tourism of People’s Republic of China.  During the opening session a documentary titled, Omani Cultural Elements of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Registered in UNESCO was launched.

“This is an important meeting we are having here in Oman. The Sultanate has been involved with the Silk Route from the very beginning.  There are two exhibitions that are being held alongside the meeting here.  On Sunday evening the first exhibition was inaugurated and today the exhibition by China of Chinese Silk, Porcelain and Tea,” explained Dr Ali Moussa Iye, Chief, History and Memory for Dialogue Section, UNESCO.

“There are international experts who have gathered here but on the last day we will have a public conference where we have invited Omani scholars to discuss the importance of maritime silk route and Oman’s role in it,” he added.

On Sunday evening the UNESCO Travelling Exhibition, ‘Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Exhibition’ was inaugurated at the Muscat Grand Mall.

On October 30th from 6 to 7.45 pm an Open Forum on contribution of the silk roads to the development of a shared cultural heritage will be held at cultural Club.  According to the experts the maritime routes were very important components of the global Silk Roads networks.  They are also known as the Spice Roads because they were used to supply markets across the world with cinnamon, pepper, ginger, cloves, incense, timber, saffron and nutmeg from the Indian Ocean World and the Red sea.  They are being considered important because these routes, which stretched over 15,000 kilometers, have largely benefited from the progress in navigation made by the sailors from the Arabian Peninsula, in particular Oman and Yemen who had forged new trading routes across the Arabian Sea, Red Sea into the Indian Ocean.  From the early exchanges with Rome in the first century AD to the impressive voyages of Zheng He in the fifteenth century, historians point out that these maritime Routes have mutual influence that shaped contemporary societies.

The public conference is expected to discuss how these cultural interactions occurred throughout history and will focus on what were the main markets of the common heritage that developed along these maritime roads.