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UNESCO Beirut launches a workshop on “Post-crisis reconstruction and revitalization of historic cities”
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UNESCO Beirut launches a workshop on “Post-crisis reconstruction and revitalization of historic cities”

On 5 September 2017, UNESCO Beirut, in cooperation with Syria’s General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums, launched a two-day workshop entitled “Post-crisis reconstruction and revitalization of historic cities” at the Sham Palace Hotel, Damascus - Arab Syrian Republic.

The workshop aims to share the Lebanese experience and lessons learnt from its pitfalls and success stories in order to initiate a Syrian reflection on this topic and lay the foundations for an elaborated approach to post-crisis reconstruction in Syria. It also aims to foster networking and better communication between the different stakeholders, to enable them to better prepare strategies for post-crisis reconstruction.

The opening ceremony was attended by Dr. Nidal Hasan, Secretary General of the UNESCO National Commission, and Professor Nazir Awad, Director of Museum Affairs representing the Department of Antiquities and Museums’ Director Dr Maamoun Abdul Karim.

In his speech Mr. Joseph Kreidi, UNESCO Beirut's Programme Officer for Culture, stated that: "Unlike the ignorant man, the knowledgeable is the one who learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Here lies the secret of success within aware communities. In this specific context, the objective of today’s workshop is to learn from the experiences and the errors of others. And because the best learning is learning by living examples, this workshop is an invitation to the heritage officials from various disciplines to discuss with their fellow Lebanese experts their experience and knowledge built on real cases they went through during post-crisis reconstructions".

Mr Nazir Awad, Director of Museum Affairs, emphasized the importance of this workshop, stating that it will provide participants with “a general overview and technical expertise on post-reconstruction strategies and options”. He also highlighted the value of this workshop in terms of ensuring a transfer of know-how and learning from others’ experiences.

As to Dr. Nidal Hassan, Secretary General of the Syrian National Commission for UNESCO, he praised the close and fruitful collaboration between UNESCO’s Regional Office in Beirut on the one hand, and the Syrian National Commission for UNESCO and Syria’s Ministry of Culture on the other hand. Dr Hassan highlighted the importance of this workshop in helping Syrian authorities carry out post-crisis reconstruction of historic sites.

For two days, the workshop reflected on the issue of post-conflict reconstruction in the Syrian context, taking Beirut, Nahr el Bared and South-Lebanon as pilot cases and as previous experiences. The workshop also addressed theoretical and deontological issues through a reflexive overview of the Heritage Protection initiatives during post-war reconstruction. Experts who were personally involved in post-crisis reconstruction introduced the participants to the different aspects of the Lebanese experience. They exposed the decision-making processes on the different private and public levels regarding heritage valuations and protection in Beirut and elsewhere. In addition, interactive sessions focused on post-crisis case studies and possible solutions and options for reconstruction, thus giving the participants a hands-on approach to the topic based on lessons learnt from the Lebanese case.

The workshop was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Tourism, the Syria Trust for Development, the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums, the National Commission for UNESCO in Syria, the Damascus Governorate, the Order of Engineers, and from the Faculties of Archaeology, Engineering and Architecture at Damascus University.

The workshop will conclude with the release of a “Concise Document” based on the experts’ presentations and the different outcomes of the workshop, which will serve as a guide to good practice.