An official of the Qatar International Centre for Conciliation and Arbitration (Qicca) at Qatar Chamber has underscored the need for a law that focuses on the conservation of Qatar’s cultural heritage.
In a paper titled ‘Does Qatar need a specific law to protect and preserve its cultural heritage?’, Dr Minas Khatchadourian, Qicca general counsel, stated that the LNG-rich Gulf state “is rich of many treasures and attractions, which represent its exceptional patrimony and extraordinary cultural heritage.”
“The term cultural heritage means the designated or registered tangible or intangible Qatari cultural heritages which are of cultural value from the point of view of history, art or science.
“As for the intangible Qatari cultural heritages, these include the traditional arts, craftsmanship, oral traditions and expressions, ceremonies, festivals, and folkloric customs, among others,” Khatchadourian explained.
He said: “It is expected that any law dedicated to protecting and preserving the Qatari cultural heritage, shall appoint an authority (Ministry of Culture and Sports) or, I suggest, the Qatar museums authority or the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development to be the competent authority to review, register and declare the list of tangible and intangible Qatari cultural heritages.”
“Furthermore, I believe that the said authority shall be competent to put in place committees in charge to review the designation, registration, or revocation of various types of cultural heritage and other important matters,” Khatchadourian noted.
To explain further the cultural function of the Qatari heritage, Khatchadourian said the cultural function of heritage is the direct inclusion of heritage in Qatari society and social activities, in particular in the areas of education and the handing-down of knowledge and experience from past periods for the purpose of raising national awareness and consolidating cultural identity.
According to Khatchadourian, the preservation of cultural heritage could be ensured through the following activities, preservation, and protection of cultural monuments (hereinafter monument), heritage conservation areas, and the environments of cultural value surrounding thereof; protection of archaeological finds and protected archaeological sites; and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.
“Therefore, I recommend the promulgation of an effective, proactive, empowering heritage conservation law quickly. Qatar’s ancient settlements, forts, towers, wells, and rock carvings, among others, that represent unique sites to marvel and explore by visitors and history lovers.
“Towers in villages safeguarded the wealth of the community, and many of the forts protected the coastline against marauders and invading armies date back to the 19th century,” Khatchadourian explained.
He added: “Also, Ras Brouq white cliffs, Al Jassasiya rock-carving sites, the island of Bin Ghannam (or Jazirat Bin Ghannam) are few great natural heritage examples. The island of Bin Ghannam on the east coast of Qatar sits in a sheltered location inside Khor Al Shaqiq Bay.
“The island was probably never permanently inhabited but visited for specific reasons at different periods. It was a place of transit, a temporary campsite for trade with Bahrain and was used by fishermen or pearl divers as early as the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE.”