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King Mohammed VI calls for protection of cultural heritage

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, stressed Morocco's commitment to culture and heritage during the meeting of the organisation's Intergovernmental Committee in Rabat
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PHOTO/FILE  -   The King of Morocco, Mohamed VI, called for the preservation and protection of the cultural heritage of all countries

During the 12th Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity - an event held in Rabat in the presence of the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay - the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, called for the preservation and protection of the cultural heritage of all countries. The monarch stressed the need to "fight" against attempts to illegally attack heritage and civilisations, according to Al-Arab.

The committee, which is currently meeting in the Moroccan capital until 3 December, is made up of 24 representatives chosen from among 180 countries that are signatories to the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. 

The choice of Morocco as the venue for this meeting, the first in two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, was not causal. According to UNESCO, the Kingdom "played an active role in the adoption of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage even before its ratification, as it actively participated in the drafting of the document". In this regard, UNESCO stressed that Morocco has 12 elements inscribed in the Convention. 

Rabat was chosen because of the cultural richness of the city, which is considered a world cultural centre. The Moroccan capital was chosen as the seat of African culture and the Islamic world for the year 2022. King Mohammed VI pointed out the importance of its geographical location, which in the past made it the centre of several civilisations and cultures, such as Phoenician, Roman, Islamic, Andalusian and European. It should be noted that Rabat has been a World Heritage Site since 2012. 

During the meeting, the director of the United Nations agency specialising in culture, education and science praised the Moroccan monarch, pointing out "his commitment to culture and multilateral action in the service of peace", according to the North African Post. For this, Azoulay, who is of Moroccan origin, expressed his "most sincere" thanks to the king. "The preservation of heritage owes much to the commitment of His Majesty King Mohammed VI," he added. 

Mohammed VI, for his part, called for "seeking more effective ways to educate young people about the importance of heritage and its care". Within heritage, the monarch stressed "its multiple cultural tributaries and its historical ties that run deep into history".

He also stressed the need to "digitise" this rich cultural heritage, in accordance with current times and challenges. This would also ensure "the interest of children in the cultural heritage left by our ancestors". "It is necessary to keep pace with digital transformations and commit to providing valuable digital content," he added. 

For the king, this meeting represents an opportunity for the delegations of the participating countries, experts and cultural heritage stakeholders to put forward "valid recommendations aimed at the conservation and maintenance of intangible cultural heritage, also presenting conclusions that will help in its development and advancement".

With regard to the objectives of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Mohammed VI indicated that it has become a central aspect of international relations. He also recalled that Morocco is committed to the protection of cultural heritage, an aspect in which it plays an important role. 

Taking advantage of the UNESCO meeting in Morocco, Mohammed VI announced the creation of a national centre for cultural heritage whose mission will be to "highlight the achievements in this field". The centre will monitor national heritage in the various regions of the Kingdom, improve the capacities of professionals to implement conservation measures, educate young people, present the importance of cultural heritage and work on the elaboration of the country's nomination reports. 

Rabat has signed all the international conventions ratified by UNESCO, sometimes adapting its national legislation to these agreements. The Kingdom has also participated in several programmes related to heritage preservation and has contributed to the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund.