Documentary heritage reflects the diversity of languages, peoples and cultures. It is the mirror of the world and its memory. But this memory is fragile. Every day, parts of this memory disappear forever. UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MoW) Programme is jointly organizing with the Oman National Commission for UNESCO the first ever regional training workshop for the Arab region of this scope, from 15 to 18 December in Muscat, Oman. This major activity aims to promote preservation of, and access to the world’s archive holdings and library collections in the region. The vision of the MOW programme is a powerful one – the world’s documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance.
The Memory of the World workshop was opened by H.E. Hamad bin Hilal Al Mamaari, Undersecretary for Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Mr. Mohammed Saleem Al Yaqoubi, Secretary General of the Oman National Commission for UNESCO, Ministry of Education and on behalf of UNESCO, the opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Boyan Radoykov, Chief of Section in the Knowledge Societies Division, Communication and Information Sector.
The specific objectives of the workshop are:
(i) to increase awareness of the existence and significance of documentary heritage in the Arab region,
(ii) to help participants identify documentary heritage with global significance and
(iii) to assist them in preparing their respective applications for nominations to the Memory of the World International Register in accordance with the existing procedure.
The four-day workshop will bring together representatives from 12 Arab countries ,as well as national participants from Oman and three experts including Mr. George Boston, (UK Memory of the World National Committee), Ms. Alissandra Cummins (Former Chairperson of the UNESCO Executive Board, 2011-2013) and Mr. Abdelaziz Abid (Former Head of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme).
One of the most important components of the Programme is the Memory of the World Register, which has been a influential tool for increasing global awareness of the existence and significance of documentary heritage. In particular, the Memory of the World International Register has come to be considered as one of the most prestigious forms of worldwide recognition for documentary heritage with outstanding value and global significance.
The collection Treasury of Oriental Manuscripts from Slovakia, along with the National Library of Egypt's Collection of Mamluk Qur'an Manuscripts, and the Phoenician Alphabet from Lebanon, or the Persian Illustrated and Illuminated Manuscripts from Egypt, listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register are but few examples of the important for the world sources of Islamic culture and literature representing the outstanding documentary heritage of the Arab region.
UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination. The Programme vision is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance. The Programme is thus intended to protect documentary heritage, and to help networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for the preservation of, and the access to, documentary and archival collections of valuable records.