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Oman committed to protect heritage sites


Nizwa, Sept 16 - Abdulaziz bin Mohammed al Rowas, Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan for Cultural Affairs, and Chairman of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), emphasised the nation’s support for the four-day ‘International Workshop of the Practical Management of the Salalah Guidelines for the Management of Public Archaeological Sites,’ in Nizwa, and urged the audience, to advance the initial Salalah Conference of 2015 objectives.

He focused on the importance of global natural history, the rich Majan culture of Oman, the influences of the Mesopotamian, Indian, Sindh, East African and Pharaonic since the reign of Khufu the Great, 5,000 years ago, and its impact on today’s generations.

He praised the efforts of academics, researchers, and even the ordinary citizens of Oman for their industry and dedication in maintaining these historical links in perpetuity.

Further advocating progress on the Salut Castle Archaeological Park, among others, Hassan bin Abdullah al Jabri, from the Office of the Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan for Cultural Affairs, in opening the workshop, expressed a willingness to move forward from the Salalah Declaration, and invited the participants to visit the Salut site, and the Oman Across the Ages Museum, as examples of the Sultanate’s commitment to World Heritage prominence.

From the Department of Archaeology of Sultan Qaboos University, Dr Nasser bin Said al Jahwari explained that the reason for having the interior hub of Nizwa as the workshop venue was “in order to allow everyone to see and experience the Salut site, and to also gain an appreciation of how Unesco status, infrastructure, facilities, and the tourism and hospitality sectors can all be brought together to benefit local communities.”

Dr Mechtild Rossier, Director of the World Heritage Centre, explained that her “concerns in regard to conservation and the environment, and particularly global warming, the need to apply sustainable and appropriately integrated heritage management, and the provision of visitor facilities,” were all key elements of her role, and that “progressing the existing doctrinal text from Salalah 2015 was essential.”

She was in awe of “the Sultanate’s rich diverse heritage from its cultural landscapes to its water irrigation (Aflaj) systems.”

Taking a regional perspective, Unesco Goodwill Ambassador and prominent global advocate for heritage protection and preservation, Princess Dana Firas of Jordan, explained that “her brief was to observe how the Unesco guidelines can better protect and meet the needs of the heritage sites throughout the wider Middle East/North African (MENA) region, both in terms of sustaining the sites themselves, in perpetuity, and their ability to meet the needs of local communities while also responding to tourism and hospitality.”

Finally, Dr Douglas C Comer, Principal of Cultural Site Research and Management, Inc, and President of the United States branch of ICOMOS, felt that the workshop would be “another step in the process of gaining Unesco heritage status for Oman’s iconic sites, and a genuine opportunity for academic publications and research on the topic. We can raise the profile of the issues, internationally,” he commented, “and work on feasibility, sustainability, infrastructural and effective management of the sites in a way that can provide maximum benefit to this amazing country.”

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