The Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science organized a virtual international seminar about intangible heritage, entitled “Traditional Industries and Their Role in Consolidating National Identity”. The organization of this seminar comes within the framework of the celebration of Doha, Capital of Culture in the Islamic World 2021.
The seminar aimed to learn about the nature of traditional industries and their importance and history as well as the history and heritage of the State of Qatar. It also aimed to stand on the impact of traditional industries in consolidating the Qatari national identity. Furthermore, the seminar sought to inculcate positive values and trends towards the traditional industries sector and its workers.
UNESCO regional office in Doha, the Ministry of Culture and Sports, ISESCO, the Cultural Village Foundation (Katara), Qatar Museums, Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, and the Sadu Craft Society in Kuwait participated in the seminar.
The lecture started with a speech delivered by Dr. Hamda Hassan Al-Sulaiti, Secretary-General of the Qatari National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, who said: “In the State of Qatar, our belief in the vital role of heritage, in both its material and intangible parts, in consolidating and highlighting the national and human identity of peoples, strengthening ties between the past, present and future of the nation, and exchanging influence with other cultures and civilizations, and the enhancement of mutual trust and knowledge between nations and cultural entities, makes it necessary for all of us to continue searching for the possibility of counting the heritage and preserving it alive in the hearts of young generations. Traditional industries are only one of the important sources of heritage because of their association with social customs and traditions inherited from generations.
Dr. Al-Sulaiti pointed out that traditional industries are an inherent element of the heritage that they produce and result from, and those industries are the element that gives the heritage an embodiment and effectiveness on the one hand, and stability and continuity on the other hand. Thus, on this basis of understanding industries and heritage, identity can be understood as the definition of man to himself, and the definition of others to him, as he belongs to the social construction of the society in which he is a member.
The Secretary-General of the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science also spoke about the committee’s role in supporting and strengthening the sources of tangible and intangible heritage in the country in cooperation with the concerned authorities and bodies, which include: Supervising the signing of many agreements for the preservation of heritage with international organizations such as UNESCO, and the organization of many seminars and workshops about traditional industries and heritage protection and preservation.
On her part, Dr. Anna Pollini, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office in Doha, said, “The State of Qatar ratified the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage on September 1, 2008 CE, which reflects its commitment to protecting the traditions and living cultural legacies that we inherited from ancestors, such as oral traditions, theatrical arts, social practices, ceremonial rituals, knowledge and practices associated with nature and the universe, or knowledge and skills needed to produce traditional crafts.
Three elements of the State of Qatar have been included in the list of the intangible cultural heritage of mankind: First, the falcon as a living human heritage, in 2016. Second, Arabic coffee as a symbol of generosity, in 2015. Third, Al-Majles as a cultural and social space, in 2015. ”
Dr. Pollini noted that intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in preserving cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization.
The Director of the UNESCO regional office in Doha mentioned that UNESCO continues to provide support for the protection of the living heritage of the State of Qatar, in line with the 2003 Convention.
She referred to the workshops program of the inventory of intangible cultural heritage with the participation of communities, which was organized by the UNESCO regional office in Doha in cooperation with the Qatari National Committee for UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture and Sports. She expressed her happiness to see the readiness of the institutions participating in this seminar to develop and implement mechanisms for the inventory of intangible cultural heritage on a societal basis.
Concluding her speech, Dr. Pollini shed light on the importance of organizing such seminars to review ideas about traditional industries, as well as to review the current context, which is witnessing rapid change in light of the (Covid-19) pandemic, which affected societies and the practices of intangible cultural heritage among them. At the same time the repercussions of the pandemic formed a living legacy as a source of resilience, solidarity and inspiration for many societies during these difficult times.