After 10 days of continuous work on cultural and natural heritage issues, the World Heritage Committee concluded its 42nd session which opened on July 4, 2018 at the UNESCO Village at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Manama.
In the last meeting, the Committee adopted its final communiqué that contains the decisions to include, remove, orchangethe status of various heritage sites around the world and other decisions relating to the work of the Committee, and announced that the 43rd session will be held next year in Baku, Azerbaijan. The 21 member countries of the World Heritage Committee thanked H.E Sheikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa who chaired the World Heritage Committee throughout the meeting daysfor her outstanding work in chairing the meeting and managing its various sessions. They also praised the Kingdom of Bahrain for thegood organization and hosting of aworld event which is the UNESCO’ssecond most important meeting after the General Assembly meeting of the 1972 World Heritage Convention.
To honor its guests attending the World Heritage Committee meeting, the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities held a closing ceremony on Tuesday 3 July 2018 in the presence of over 500 participants. The ceremony was attended by H.E Sheikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa, Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee for the year 2018, H.E. Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, Ms. Mechtild Rössler, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center, in addition to representatives of the World Heritage Convention Advisory Bodies and many experts, specialists and media professionals.
In her address, H.E Sheikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa thanked H.E Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa for her trust and expressed her delight in working with all experts from around the world for 10 consecutive days. She also thanked the members of the World Heritage Committee and advisory bodies for their unrelenting support and work for the protection and preservation of heritage around the world, and stressed that the Kingdom of Bahrain supports international efforts to promote cultural and civilizational exchange among the peoples of the world and achieve sustainable development at the global level.
H.E Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa thanked H.E Sheikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa for her efforts and successful management of the 42ndSession of the World Heritage Committee. H.E Sheikha Mai also thanked all those who stood alongside the UNESCO human heritage team, the World Heritage Center, the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities team, and all those who contributed to the success of the meetings in the Kingdom of Bahrain. She congratulated the countries that have succeeded in having their sites included on the World Heritage List, stressing that the whole world should celebrate this success because cultural heritage is the real legacy that deserves to be passed on to future generations.
Ms. Mechtild Rössler thanked the Kingdom of Bahrain on behalf of all participants for its hospitality and organization which met the highest international standards. She emphasized that this event is an opportunity to celebrate culture as a language shared by all the peoples of the world.
The closing ceremony ended with two musical performances: one by the Mohammed Bin Faris Band who played a variety of pieces that reflect the Bahraini musical heritage such as al-saut, al-basta, and al-khumari, all of which are wedding ritual music styles, and other traditional Bahraini songs, and another by the AQ Jazz Experience band whoplayed musical masterpieces from the golden age of jazz, swing, blues and some modern songs in their own style.
The representatives of 139 states and over 2,000 experts in the field of cultural and natural heritage have attended the42nd Session of the World Heritage Committee. The Committee considered the possibility of including 28 additional sites on the World Heritage List and examined the status of conservation of 157 sites that are already on the list. Accordingly, theCommitteeadded 19 sites to the 1,073 sites already listed on the World Heritage List, bringing the total number of World Heritage sites to 1,092 in 167 different countries around the world.
The 42ndWorld Heritage Committee meeting was held under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of the Kingdom of Bahrain, at the UNESCO village which was built specifically for the event at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Ammar Bashir Studio for Arts created the concept and design of the UNESCO village, and the hotel facilitated the planning and construction process.
The Kingdom of Bahrain, having succeeded in becoming a member of the World Heritage Committee during the 21st meeting of the General Assembly of the member countries of the 1972World Heritage Convention, won the chairmanship of the Committee, and H.E Sheikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa was approved to chair the Committee for the year 2018. This is not the first time that the Kingdom wins the chairmanship the World Heritage Committee; in 2011, the then Minister of Culture, H.E Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa chaired the Committee.
The meeting of the World Heritage Committee coincided with an exciting program prepared by the Authority forCulture to celebrate the city of Muharraq, the capital of Islamic culture 2018. The program offered a variety of activities including international shows, cultural seasons, fine art and plastic art exhibitions from around the world, and many more. On the sidelines of the World Heritage Committee meeting, Bahrain hosted two international forums, the World Heritage Young Experts Forum and the 2018World Heritage Site Managers Forum, both of which provided a global opportunity to share experiences among world heritage specialists.
The 1972 Convention was adopted by the General Assembly of UNESCO in 1972 and became effective in 1976 with the inclusion of world-famous sites on the World Heritage List. This was the beginning of a long journey where most countries of the world joined and signed the Convention. Today, the Convention is signed by 193 states.
The Convention is mainly based on the World Heritage Committeewhich is composed of 21 states elected by the General Assembly of the states that are party to the Convention. Through the World Heritage Committee meetings, over 1000 sites in 164 different countries of the world were included on the World Heritage List. In order to approve a World Heritage listing, the Committee consults three international non-governmental or governmental organizations: the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an advisory body to the Commission for the selection of natural characteristics of the World Heritage and the state of preservation of property, the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a non-governmental organization advising the World Heritage Committee on the evaluation of cultural property nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List, and the International Center for the Study of the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), an international governmental organization assessing the status of the preservation of registered cultural heritage and presenting recommendations for site restoration plans.