Qatar Museums (QM), under the auspices of the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP), recently took part in a novel heritage festival in Sudan.
The Karmakol Festival brought together Sudanese, Swiss and international artists to support Sudanese culture through capacity building, knowledge exchange and a series of cultural projects.
The Karmakol Festival was launched two years ago with the help of the Sudanese and Swiss Commissions for Unesco and Swiss Initiative – Culture Projects Sudan NGO. The overall goal of the festival is to contribute to intercultural understanding and international cultural co-operation.
The three-week event featured artists and workshops focused on creating awareness about the arts and culture of Sudan.
Professor Thomas Leisten, director, international heritage sites protection, archaeology and conservation division at QM, said: “It was a pleasure to take part in the Karmakol Festival, something that fits perfectly with the mission of Qatar Museums’ QSAP project to empower the people of Sudan to protect and preserve their heritage through education and financial and skills-based support. We have had a very successful five years with QSAP, helping build knowledge and material infrastructure to sustain the country’s heritage, and are looking forward to further accomplishments in the remaining years of the initiative.”
As part of its work with QSAP, QM helped provide essential logistical infrastructure for the Karmakol Festival by making it possible to build visitor facilities and water tanks.
Under the QSAP umbrella more broadly, Qatar, represented by QM, has provided more than $50mn in financial support for the archaeological missions working in Sudan since 2012. “This unprecedented investment has provided dramatic change in the way research, preservation and education are carried out around Sudan’s historical landmark,” QM said in a statement.
As part of QSAP, QM is currently funding 42 missions from 25 institutions and 12 countries involved in the excavation and conservation of heritage sites that date from the prehistoric era until the pre-modern period.
As a result of the funding offered by QSAP, local and international missions are able to work for up to three months, recruiting additional experts and using “innovative and cutting-edge” technologies, including 3D modelling, photography and sophisticated anthropological survey techniques.
All these activities are supported by the dissemination of research results, the digitisation and cataloguing of archival documents that have not previously been accessible to researchers in Sudan and universities abroad, and the presentation of information to the general public, including university students, to build local capacity in Sudan, the statement notes.
The work QSAP has done has already contributed to increasing the awareness of Sudan's cultural heritage in the Sudanese society through public campaigns and the establishment of a series of visitor service centres. In this context, the project promotes opportunities for young Sudanese to create jobs in the field of cultural heritage and to improve the cultural tourism industry through local communities.
As a next step, a roadmap to jumpstart cultural tourism in Sudan to the two World Heritage sites of Meroe and Jebel Barkal is being developed in accordance with Unesco standards. A modern touristic infrastructure has already been developed in their proximity, including two tourist villages that will serve to house tourists during their visits in the area.
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