The meetings are part of the continuous efforts by SGTS to engage with local communities as they are essential elements for the collective protection of the cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value.
The meetings included communities in UNESCO nominated as a world heritage property including Sharjah Historic Town, Khorfakkan, Wadi Al Helo, Fili and Al Dhaid. The delegates met with the local communities and explored their day-to-day practices that aim to preserve the oral, urban and architectural heritage and passing it onto the coming generations.
These community tours were conducted in collaboration with municipal councils in line with SGTS Management Office’s dedication to promoting the Emirati cultural heritage identity and Sharjah’s role in preserving it.
Khuloud Al Houli, Director of SGTS Management Office, said, "These meetings were aimed at interacting with the local communities of the nominated property, and discussing how we can all work together and participate effectively in the process of preserving Sharjah’s rich heritage and share it with the world."
"The local community is an integral part of the heritage and history of these sites, and has always played a crucial role in preserving and highlighting Sharjah’s unique stature locally and regionally," she explained.
"This national project is a great source of pride for every UAE citizen. Sharjah continues to play a pioneering role in preserving the heritage and culture of the UAE and the region. Our history and culture deserve to be showcased globally through UNESCO," she added.
Dr Rashed Khamis Al Naqbi, Chairman of Khorfakkan Municipal Council, expressed his delight at having Khorfakkan as a nominated property on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. He pointed out that this national project would proudly represent the UAE at one of the most important international forums in the world. He emphasised that the local community of Khorfakkan was dedicated to supporting the project, which will be in the best interests of all segments of society.
Salem Khamis Al Mazrouei, from Wadi el Helo, said, "The inclusion of Wadi Al Helo on the nominated property is a source of pride for its people because they have been preserving the area’s heritage for decades, and look forward to celebrating winning the bid to become one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites."
"The nominated site, home to its residents for generations, has protected them throughout history, and now it is the time to give back," he added.
The SGTS Management Office has also organised a workshop for a number of government directorates and entities at the Sharjah Institute for Heritage in the presence of Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage, Manal Ataya, Director-General of the Sharjah Museums Authority, both members of the SGTS Nomination Steering Committee, as well as Khuloud Al Houli, Director of the SGTS Management Office.
Many government directorates and entities also participated in the workshop. These included the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Sharjah Directorate of Antiquities, Sharjah Institute for Heritage, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah Museums Authority, Sharjah Urban Planning Council, Sharjah Roads and Transport Authority, Directorate of Town Planning and Survey, Sharjah Directorate of Public Work, Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority besides many representatives of Sharjah, Al Dhaid and Al-Madame.
The workshop enabled all participants to share their experiences and scale up collaboration and cooperation between each entity in their respective specialisation and expertise, to contribute to the success of the projects and place Sharjah on the map of World Heritage Sites.
"Such workshops, which target state entities involved in preserving and monitoring Sharjah’s cultural heritage sites, will continue to be conducted to ensure fruitful coordination, and set a productive mechanism for an action plan to transform Sharjah’s historical and heritage sites into a premium touristic destination that attracts visitors from around the world, and preserves its unique heritage and nature at the same time," Al Houli stated.
The SGTS nominated property includes eight sites, Historic Town of Sharjah (Heart of Sharjah), which is home to many historical buildings and traditional markets; Al Hisn (Sharjah Fort), one of the most important historical building in the emirate; Al Mahatta Airport, which served as a bridge linking the East and the West; Al Mirgab Military Camp, which was a symbol of security and safety in Sharjah; and Al Dhaid Fort and Oasis, an important agricultural area that was located at the crossroads of UAE’s local communities.
The UNESCO nominated property also features the Fili Fort, an important historical front that was used to protect the UAE’s waters, which were key trade routes that extended from north of Al Ain and Al Buraimi Oasis; Wadi Al Helo, a nature reserve with valleys on the Hajar Mountains, and finally, the Khorfakkan Fort, with its village and surrounding archaeological area, which formed a marine gate for the east coast of the emirate.