Qatar Museums and the General Authority of Customs (GAC) Tuesday hosted a conference revisiting the Unesco 1970 Convention on Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property. The conference, which was held at the Customs Training Center at the General Authority of Customs, provided insights into the prevention of theft and looting and best practices for the return and restitution of stolen cultural property. It also examined means to impede illicit trafficking in part by training Customs officers who are on the front lines examining goods that travel through Hamad International Airport.
The opening session of the conference focused on how to overcome obstacles to implementing current international legal mechanisms and explored solutions centered on international co-operation. The interactive session provided a platform of an interesting discussion between Salah Khaled, Director of Unesco Doha Office for Gulf States and Yemen; Maria Bolner, Policy Adviser and Leader of the Cultural Heritage Program, World Customs Organization; DrLast updated: May 31 2022 11:04 PM
Osama al-Nahas, Heritage Expert, Islamic World Organization for Education, Science and Culture (Isesco); Major General Lutfi Cicek, Head of Interpol-Europol department of Turkey's General Directorate of Security; and Dr Eleni Polymenopolou, Assistant Professor in the College of Law, Hamad bin Khalifa University.
Commenting on the event, Dr Fatima Hassan al-Sulaiti, Director of the Department of International Co-operation in Qatar Museums said: "We are pleased to provide support to Qatar's General Authority of Customs through training, the exchange of knowledge, and the development of human and technical capabilities.
Illicit trafficking of cultural property is an issue we must all work together to fight to ensure the protection of Qatar's heritage."
The second session, moderated by Dr Rashid Malheya, examined new techniques, approaches, and tools being used to counter the illicit trafficking of cultural objects in Qatar. The discussion presented valuable insights from Faisal al-Nuaimi, Director of Archaeology Department, Qatar Museums; Dr Omar al-Azm, Associate Professor of Gulf Studies, Qatar University; AbdulLatif al-Jasmi, Director of Cultural Heritage Protection, Qatar Museums; and Talal al-Shibi, Director of Operations and Risk Analysis, General Customs Authority.
Mohamed Ahmed al-Mohannadi, Assistant Chairman of the General Authority of Customs, said: "We are pleased to co-operate with Qatar Museums in organising and hosting this important conference, which focuses on raising awareness about the Unesco 1970 Convention on Cultural Property and exploring ways to impede the illicit trafficking of cultural property. The conference also shed light on the role of Customs in controlling shipments and goods and limiting the illegal circulation of cultural property in all its forms." He explained that the authority is concerned with the protection of trademarks, intellectual and cultural property, among others, in addition to its intercepting of counterfeit goods.
He stressed the importance of the conference in enhancing the experiences of participants from local and international entities, especially the training of port Customs employees as the topics covered during are directly linked to the core of their work at Qatar's ports. He emphasised the GAC's keenness to exchange expertise and experiences with its partners from local authorities across all disciplines, as their collaboration guarantees ease in Customs procedures and contributes to increasing the awareness of Customs officials, easing the handling of goods and shipments entering Qatar on a daily basis.
Commenting on the event, Dr Fatima Hassan al-Sulaiti, Director of International Co-operation at Qatar Museums, said: "We are pleased to support the General Authority of Customs in Qatar through training, knowledge exchange, and human and technical capacity development. The illicit trafficking of cultural property is an issue that we must all come together to fight to ensure the protection of Qatari heritage."
Mubarak Ibrahim al-Buainain, Director of the Regional Customs Training Center at the GAC, said that the conference is the first co-operation with Qatar Museums, stating that the Training Center is keen to achieve mutual co-operation and co-ordination with effective training and cultural institutions in Qatar, with the aim of exchanging experiences across various fields, which is in the interest of the Authority's employees of all departments and specialisations.
He thanked Qatar Museums for their efforts in organising the conference and welcomed the valuable participation of representatives from local authorities and international organisations. (QNA)