At Yale’s “Culture in Crisis” week, Secretary General Samir Abdulac spoke on the importance of conserving heritage through innovative programs and partnerships


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA (April 13, 2016) – On April 13, 2016, Global Heritage Fund (GHF) and its AMAL in Heritage program were highlighted at Yale University’s week of “Culture in Crisis” programs. The Secretary-General of ICOMOS France and the chair of its Working Group for Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Syria and Iraq, Samir Abdulac, presented on ICOMOS’s collaborations with GHF and other organizations in the effort to safeguard cultural heritage in the war-stricken countries of the Middle East.


“The crisis in Syria has been devastating for the population, the country, and cultural heritage,” he said. “We are quite sensitive to the essential role played by local professionals on the ground in time of great danger and seek to provide them with assistance, training, and moral support. Two joint projects are presently in their early stages: ANQA and AMAL,” he continued, “[And these are] how we how gradually developed a fruitful working relationship with the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums, or DGAM, and particularly with its Director General Professor Maamoun Abdulkarim.”


AMAL in Heritage is a partnership between Global Heritage Fund, the Prince Claus Fund (PCF), the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH), the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), and the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICOMOS-ICORP). The AMAL in Heritage Program is a technological solution designed to aid in documenting cultural assets and assessing damage to cultural heritage during high-risk, emergency situations in the Middle East and North Africa. AMAL is structured in three modules – Preparedness, Response, and Recovery – each designed to provide assistance to experts and other interested parties available on the ground.


Project ANQA for the Arabic World is a partnership between ICOMOS, CyArk, and the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Property. According to CyArk’s website, ANQA “intends to deploy teams of international professionals, paired with local professionals to document the at-risk sites in 3D before they are destroyed or altered.” It will do this by building relationships with cultural ministries, soliciting funding, and mobilizing teams to collect data.


These programs will prove essential in the ongoing struggle for preserving cultural heritage in the Middle East, as they both fill important needs for heritage conservators on the ground. Though they overlap in key ways, ANQA and AMAL differ in how they provide capacity for heritage professionals: ANQA is designed primarily for documentation, and AMAL for documentation, response, recovery, and training.


The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban-Ki Moon, was also present at the event and gave his thoughts on best practices for the preservation of cultural heritage. “Any loss of cultural heritage is a loss of our common memory. It impairs our ability to learn, to build experience, and to apply the lessons of the past to the present and the future” he said. “Extremists and terrorists have known this throughout the ages. In our response, we must be even more determined to safeguard and preserve culture than the extremists are to destroy it.”