Strategy 2014-2019

In July 2009, the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) signed the agreement on the establishment, in Bahrain, of an Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) as a Category II Centre under the auspices of UNESCO.

The Centre was established as an autonomous and independent legal entity at the service of Arab States Parties to the World Heritage Convention. It was inaugurated by H.E. Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture, in December 2011.

The Centre collaborates with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies (ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN) on the basis of the decisions and recommendations of the World Heritage Committee. It also partners with responsible institutions in the region to federate energies around the conservation, promotion and presentation of cultural and natural heritage. The purpose is to balance and increase the representation of Arab States’ properties on the World Heritage List, promote better protection and management of these properties, mobilize regional and international financial support, and raise awareness about World Heritage in the region.

The Centre’s mandate comes as a response to regional needs and priorities in relation to main focus areas defined by UNESCO, particularly in its Draft Medium Term Strategy for 2014-2021 (37 C/4). More specifically, the Centre addresses key issues including ongoing political transformations and conflicts that affect several Arab States, inadequacy of institutional and legislative tools needed for effective World Heritage Programme implementation, limited awareness and support from the region’s decision makers, and limited human and technical capacities within national agencies responsible for the implementation of the Convention.

Mission Statement

The Centre’s mission is to enhance the implementation of the 1972 World Heritage Convention in Arab States for the benefit of World Heritage Sites in the region.

The Centre shall achieve its strategic approach through several functions. It acts as:

  1. - a credible source of technical assistance to improve Arab States’ capacity to implement the World Heritage Convention, for example by developing knowledge, increasing communication and using expertise in and outside the region;
  2. - a platform to logistically and financially support national and regional activities with a view to facilitating World Heritage fund raising and resource mobilization;
  3. - a regional hub to disseminate information on the World Heritage Convention and its application through the development and management of a website in Arabic, English and French as well as the preparation, translation and publication of relevant knowledge tools and literature.

Strategic Objectives

In line with the principles of the World Heritage Convention, the ARC-WH shall promote more interlinkage between cultural and natural heritage in the region by:

  • - Consolidating the network of Arabic speaking experts with regard to the 5Cs of the World Heritage Convention: capacity-building, credibility, communication, conservation and community;
  • - Recognizing traditional knowledge, practices, skills and craftsmanship;
  • - Raising awareness and promoting education about World Heritage.

To better respond to the specific priorities of the region, the Centre shall adopt two parallel strategic tracks for cultural heritage and natural heritage.

The Centre’s Cultural Heritage Programme shall focus on three strategic objectives:

Consolidate existing representation of properties on the World Heritage List and improve management effectiveness through the promotion of good governance and strong law enforcement;

  • - Consolidate existing representation of properties on the World Heritage List and improve management effectiveness through the promotion of good governance and strong law enforcement;
  • - Cooperate with Arab States, ICCROM and ICOMOS’s Programmes related to globalization, climate change, urbanization and social change issues;
  • - Provide support to World Heritage Sites in Danger especially in response to regional political transformations and conflicts, with particular focus on the assessment of impacts, the adoption of emergency response, and the promotion of protection measures;

The Centre’s Natural Heritage Programme shall focus on three strategic objectives:

  • Enhance the representation of properties on the World Heritage List while featuring well-selected and globally recognized priority sites;
  • Develop and document the upstream process adopted by the Centre in cooperation with IUCN’s World Heritage Programme to support sub-regional and national priorities;
  • Promote good practices on the effective management of existing World Heritage Sites to address integrity and protection issues as a precautionary measure against possible inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

Arrangements for Strategy Implementation

To fulfil the above-mentioned objectives, a set of annual activities shall be discussed, prioritized and implemented in collaboration with partners and target groups. These activities shall be organized in one consolidated annual Action Plan that will be submitted to the Centre’s Governing Board for approval. The Action Plan shall be associated with a set of result based indicators to help the Centre assess its performance and impacts on the region’s World Heritage as well as its alignment with international trends and priorities. It will also facilitate the external evaluation that will be undertaken in conformity with the agreement between the Government of Bahrain and UNESCO.

The Centre shall pursue its objectives and functions in close coordination with existing UNESCO entities (the World Heritage Centre in Paris and UNESCO offices in the region), initiatives and programmes.

The implementation of the strategy shall take different forms and approaches and utilize diverse tools and mechanisms according to priority areas at national, sub-regional and regional levels. A fully participative approach shall be adopted by the Centre to define the various activities implemented. The Centre should collaborate with all stakeholders, partners and interest groups, particularly to promote sustainable development, to enhance the role of local communities and to raise awareness about World Heritage.

The implementation of the strategy shall follow a careful prioritization process that aims at balancing the Center’s strategic scope with needed interventions and available human and financial resources. Additional efforts will be undertaken to mobilize necessary resources by means of national and international mechanisms.

Activities for 2014

Joint Activities

  • - Participation of the Centre’s experts in the upcoming World Heritage Committee meeting in Qatar, in June;
  • - Preparation and production of a brochure about the Centre for use during the World Heritage Committee meeting in Qatar, in June;
  • Participation of the Centre’s experts in the upcoming UNESCO Category 2 Centres meeting in Shanghai, in May;
  • - Contribution to the Timbuktu/Mali conservation initiative launched by UNESCO;
  • - Collaboration with the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), the Nordic World Heritage Foundation (NWHF) and the World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region (WHITRAP).

Cultural Heritage Programme

  1. Collaborating with the World Heritage Centre:
    • Participate, throughout the year, with the World Heritage Centre in workshops and seminars related to World Heritage Sites in Danger, nominations and management.
  2. Consolidating the World Heritage List:
      Organize a meeting in April on the site of Wadi Al-Salam Cemetery in Najaf, inscribed on the Tentative List of Iraq.
  3. Supporting World Heritage Sites in Danger:
    • Implement the specific recommendation on the Historic Town of Zabid as part of the Action Plan adopted by the Centre;
    • Assess the impacts of armed conflict on the Ancient City of Aleppo in Syria;
    • Organize an exhibition on World Heritage Sites in Danger in the Arab Region within the framework of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Qatar.