Qatar National Library’s (QNL) programme, Himaya, is effectively countering trafficking of cultural properties and documents, a top official said on Tuesday.
“The whole world is facing the problem of trafficking of cultural properties which is a threat to the history and identity of the nations. The world needs collective efforts to prevent such actions. That is why we have launched the Himaya programme,” HE the Minister of State and QNL president Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari explained.
He was speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the two day workshop ‘Second Doha Workshop on Countering the Trafficking of Cultural Property with a focus on Documentary Heritage,’ organised by QNL.
“The protection of cultural properties is a very important matter. Fortunately, Qatar National Library has a leading programme called Himaya to protect the cultural properties. Himaya, the Arabic word stands for protection and this initiative is currently well-known and has been accepted by the international community. All the representative and experts in the field are meeting and discussing the issues to get the best outcomes,” explained, Dr al-Kawari.
In partnership with the General Authority of Customs and in collaboration with the US, Italian, and French embassies in Qatar, QNL aims to deepen the understanding and implementation of best practices in preventing the illicit trade of cultural property and documentary heritage.
Dr al-Kawari noted: “The increasing global threat is evident, despite international conventions like those from Unesco in 1970 and Unidroit in 1995. As smugglers harness modern social media and with geopolitical unrest further propelling these illicit activities, our history, culture, and heritage face unprecedented risks."
Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Jamal, chairman of the General Authority of Customs; Jean-Baptiste Faivre, ambassador of France; Paolo Toschi, ambassador of Italy; Timmy Davis, US ambassador; and Tan Huism, executive director of QNL were among the other dignitaries in attendance at the event.
Al-Jamal, said: "Our participation today underscores our crucial role in advancing global efforts to combat the illegal trade in cultural assets. The authority has enacted regulations regarding prohibitions, import and export restrictions, and the unauthorised transfer of cultural properties. This reiterates Qatar's commitment to fulfilling its obligations under international treaties, particularly the Unesco 1970 Convention aimed at curbing the trafficking of illicit cultural property."
Italian ambassador Toschi pointed : “We are proud to stand alongside QNL in their "Himaya Project” for the protection of cultural heritage and the fight against illicit trafficking. When it comes to such topics, Italy is one of the most active countries, both at a national and international level thanks to our experts and bodies such as the Carabinieri force, for the protection of cultural heritage.”
According to French envoy, Faivre: “France is highly committed to the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property at the global level. This engagement should go beyond borders; increasing the international cooperation is key. We are delighted today to welcome three high-level French experts to contribute to the workshop.”
“Understanding our past is crucial to understanding our present, and to building a future that honours our values and traditions. Cultural heritage artefacts are our gateway to that historical understanding. That is why the United States and Qatar worked during our strategic dialogue to increase our ongoing cooperation in heritage protection, and why several US agencies and the Smithsonian Institute have convened at Qatar National Library to be part of this important workshop,” added, US ambassador, Davis.
A section of the audience at the workshop. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
Dignitaries at the event.