UNESCO and ICCROM (The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) sign an agreement on capacity building for the reconstruction of Mosul’s cultural heritage.

ICCROM, through its Regional Conservation Office in Sharjah (UAE), will provide a two-year capacity building programme for professionals and craftspeople to contribute to the reconstruction of Mosul’s Old City.

This programme is possible thanks to the financial support of the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the European Union and is part of the UNESCO initiative to Revive the Spirit of Mosul.

This ICCROM-UNESCO partnership aims at strengthening the expertise of local young professionals and craftspeople in order to equip them with the required skills for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Old City and, as a result, ensure long-term livelihood opportunities.

The programme targets both young professionals from various disciplines such as architecture, engineering or urban planning, and craftspeople such as masons, carpenters, or stone carvers. Young professionals will be trained on heritage management and conservation, providing them with technical competencies needed to participate in the physical reconstruction of the city.

The programme will also prepare a number of skilled building craftspeople to contribute towards the long-term reconstruction needs of the Old City, taking into consideration the protection, revival and evolution of Mosul’s heritage values.

The capacity building programme will be implemented though a practical on-the-job training modality where trainees will actively participate in the reconstruction of the city’s historic landmarks and houses, and will receive a stipend.

The institutional capacity building scheme falls into the framework of the Revive the spirit of Mosul initiative, UNESCO’s response for the recovery of one of Iraq’s iconic cities. The initiative aims at contributing to community reconciliation and peace building through the recovery of the living environment and rehabilitation of the city’s heritage sites.

The initiative places special emphasis in empowering the population as agents of change involved in the process of rebuilding their city through culture and education. This partnership between UNESCO and ICCROM will reinforce local expertise that can participate in the reconstruction, ensuring both ownership and long-term livelihood opportunities for the people of Iraq.

This ICCROM-UNESCO partnership will specifically support the UAE funded project Reviving the Spirit of Mosul by rebuilding its historic landmarks namely the Al-Nouri Mosque and its Al-Hadba Minaret, as well as the Al-Tahera Church and Al-Saa’a Church and European Union funded project Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

The Japanese Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Hashimoto Naofumi (pictured), and Representative of UNESCO to Iraq, Mr. Paolo Fontani, on Tuesday 3rd of March 2020 signed an agreement in Baghdad in support of the project to support job creation for youth in Mosul.

The project aims to foster sustainable job creation for youth supporting the return of IDPs through quality TVET training for skilled construction workers.

The project will be implemented in synergy with other UNESCO activities under the umbrella initiative ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ to coordinate international efforts in revitalizing educational and cultural institutions in Mosul, in close cooperation with the Government and the people of Iraq. This project will have linkages to the EU project “Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities”.

Director and Representative of UNESCO Iraq Office praised this innovative contribution:

“UNESCO is very grateful to the Government and the people of Japan. The project will empower young people in Mosul through supporting employment and self-employment and reduce the likelihood of marginalization and extremism.”

Ambassador Hashimoto highlighted:

“Japan has recently decided new assistance package for Iraq amounting to USD 41 million including this project as assistance for youth in Mosul. With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis reaches USD 540 million since 2014.

“I hope that the assistance from the Government and people of Japan will help foster sustainable job creation for youth in Mosul in reconstruction efforts”.

Japan has long been a valued donor to UNESCO in Iraq. In 2019, the Government of Japan supported the project “Voices of the children of Old Mosul: the rehabilitation and management of primary schools in historic urban context emerging from conflict”.

The project lays the ground for a holistic approach to the prevention of violent extremism in primary education with the provision of training to support the four key elements that influence the experience of children’s learning: parents, teachers, school principals and school policies and procedures.

(Source: UN)

UNESCO to begin work at Al-Tahera Church in Mosul

UNESCO will soon start reconstruction of the Syriac Catholic Al-Tahera Church in Mosul, Iraq, that was severely damaged in 2017. More than a church, Al Tahera is a symbol of the diversity that has been the story of Mosul for centuries.

An iconic symbol woven into the history of Mosul, Al-Tahera Church was built in 1859 and opened in 1862. The Church is located in the heart of the old city, formerly defined by the Ottoman city walls on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite ancient Nineveh. Its multiple altars, dining room and two sacristy rooms set it aside from other churches of the same period. It already underwent renovation about 100 years after its construction.

The reconstruction work is quite complex as large parts of its arcades were destroyed, as well as its external walls. In addition to the demolition of the remaining portions of its concrete roof, the early stages of work will require clearing rubble and removing landmines from the 650m2 site. Local contractors, under the supervision of skilled experts, are doing the work.

UNESCO is fostering reconciliation and social cohesion in Mosul through the restoration and reconstruction of emblematic historical sites as part of UNESCO’s led international initiative “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”. The rehabilitation of this church is important not only because of its value as cultural heritage, but also as a testimony to the diversity of the city, a proud crossroads of cultures and a peaceful haven for different religious communities over the centuries.

Students in the departments of archaeology, architecture and engineering of the University of Mosul will benefit from taking part in the process of restoration of the landmark buildings.

This project is funded by the United Arab Emirates and beyond the rehabilitation of architectural landmarks, it includes:

  • On the-job training for young professionals
  • Strengthening the capacities of craftspeople (masons, carpenters, stone carvers, metalsmiths, etc.)
  • Job creation opportunities
  • Technical and vocational education

(Source: UNESCO)

Doha: Signing of the Italy-UNESCO Agreement on children’s education in Iraq

The Director General for Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Giorgio Marrapodi, and the Director of the UNESCO Office in Iraq, Paolo Fontani, signed an agreement today in Doha for the implementation of a joint cooperation project aimed at ensuring access to education for children in Iraq who currently cannot go to school.

The agreement is part of a broader program also funded by the Education Above All Foundation of Qatar. Italy will support the project with one million euros. The aim is to help remove some of the obstacles that limit access to education in Iraq.

The funds will be used by UNESCO to rehabilitate ten schools, conduct education campaigns, and enroll 17,000 boys and girls of the Governorships of Salah al-Din and Baghdad.

Director General Marrapodi commented:

In the Iraqi context it is even more important than anywhere else to create synergies between the different sources of knowledge and experience: Iraq, Italy, Education Above All and UNESCO will each offer an important contribution to the activities of the project.

“We are confident that this project will be a starting point for a broader and more fruitful trilateral collaboration with Qatar, in Iraq and also in other contexts”.

At the signing ceremony of the agreement, Paolo Fontani, Director of the UNESCO Office in Iraq, said:

“UNESCO is particularly grateful to the Italian Government and to Educate A Child – the global programme of the Education Above All Foundation – for the support provided to the project. Improved access to education for excluded boys and girls is the best possible contribution to their future and to the future of Iraq.”

Italy’s Ambassador to Qatar, Pasquale Salzano, commented:

We are pleased that the signing of this agreement takes place in Doha within the framework of the WISE Summit, and that it focuses, in particular, on access to education for children in disadvantaged countries.

“Italy has always been one of the major contributors to UNESCO and the project agreement signed today in Doha strengthens our commitment to promote access to education, alongside Qatar and the Education Above All foundation which is engaged in Iraq in Africa and in the world, providing education to over 10 million children living in crisis areas.”

(Source: UNESCO)

The United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) renewed their collaboration to the flagship UNESCO initiative Revive the Spirit of Mosul earlier this morning, extending the historic partnership on restoration and reconstruction efforts in Mosul, Iraq. Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development; and Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO met earlier today at the organisation’s headquarters in Paris, signaling a continued focus on rebuilding iconic landmarks that lie at the core of human civilisations.

This agreement arises in line with the UAE championing 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, emphasising tolerance as a universal concept and a sustainable institutional endeavour through legislation and policies aimed at entrenching the values of tolerance, dialogue, coexistence and openness to different cultures.

Concluding in the presence of His Excellency, Abdulrahman Hamid al-Husseini, Iraq’s Ambassador to France; HE Dr. Mohamed Ali Al Hakim, Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Brother Nicolas Tixier, Prior Provincial of the Province of France of the Dominican Order; and Brother Olivier Poquillon, General Secretary of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU, the new agreement today reiterates the restoration efforts for the rebuilding of two destroyed cultural sites; the Al-Tahera Church and the Al-Saa’a Church.

The project is an extension of the historic agreement signed earlier in April 2018 whereby the Emirates committed $50.4 million to contribute to the rebuilding of the cultural heritage of Mosul. The project initially concerned the restoration and reconstruction of the historic landmarks of Mosul, notably the emblematic Al-Nouri Mosque and its celebrated, leaning 45-metre Al-Hadba Minaret, built more than 840 years ago.

With the renewed partnership, the UAE will support the reconstruction of the 800-year old Al-Tahera Church, located in the Midan area in Mosul’s Old City and considered one of the oldest churches in the area, dating back to the first millennium; and the Al-Saa Church, also known as Our Lady of the Hour Church, which became a living example of the brotherhood between the people of Mosul who have graduated from its educational institution, regardless of their religious background.

These efforts will also contribute to the construction of a museum and memorial site which will exhibit and preserve remnants and history of the restored mosque and churches, with engaging community and educational spaces. The museum and memorial will have a long-lasting impact on Mosul’s young community with the creation of training and job opportunities for over 1,000 young Moslawis, the development of sustainable skills for those employed by the project and through educational and training opportunities, and the significant contribution of the project to the local economy through cultural tourism for Mosul and Iraq.

To date, the project has employed 27 Iraqis and contracted 4 Iraqi companies, with efforts to further bolster this growth as the project progresses. The UAE has also engaged with over 50 local Iraqis to receive direct feedback about their perspective on the restoration of the cultural sites that reflect their country’s legacy.

Speaking on the momentous occasion, HE Noura Al Kaabi remarked:

We are very honoured to sign this partnership with UNESCO and the people of Iraq to take our efforts further in helping rebuild Mosul and reviving the spirit of co-existence and social cohesion. Our work with UNESCO around the world is testament to our country’s commitment to furthering the organisation’s mandate through international cooperation within the fields of education, culture and science.

“Today’s signing is a pioneering partnership that sends a message of light, in seemingly darker times. By rebuilding a fraction of the past, Iraq can shape its future as an inclusive, tolerant and open society which has always found a tangible manifestation in Mosul’s rich historical sites.

“As we start working with UNESCO to reconstruct the ancient Al-Tahera Church, considered to be one of the most ancient churches in Mosul dating back to the 7th Century; as we break ground rebuilding ‘Our Lady of the Hour’, a catholic church built by Dominican Fathers; the UAE becomes the first country in the world to reconstruct Christian churches in Iraq.”

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s General Director joined HE Al Kaabi in the announcement of the renewed partnership:

Today was an important step for the recovery of the Old City of Mosul. With the inclusion of the two churches Al Tahera and Al-Saa in our project we are all strongly mobilized. This rehabilitation aims to reclaim the true spirit of the City, a story of peaceful coexistence between different religious and ethnic groups.

“I am thankful to the United Arab Emirates and Minister Al Kaabi who have generously supported our Initiative since the beginning, and who believe, as we do, that there is no true reconstruction and revival without Culture and Education.

The Al-Tahera Church of Syriac Catholics in Mosul is considered as one of the largest and oldest churches in the Old City of Mosul. Located in the heart of the first inhabited hilltop of Mosul, known as Qile’aat, near the river, Al-Tahera was surrounded by other churches and mosques.

Before its destruction, the church used to include a school, a library, and a healthcare centre, and it was symbolic of the peaceful coexistence between Christian and Muslim communities in the Old City of Mosul.

The Al-Saa’a Church, which means “Church of the Clock” in Arabic, lies at the heart of the Old City of Mosul. Belonging to the Dominican Fathers, who built it between 1866 and 1873, historians say that Empress Eugenie (María Eugenia de Montijo), wife of Napoleon III, the last emperor of France, donated the funding for the bell tower, which is one of the iconic landmarks of the historic town of Mosul today. Al-Saa’a Church used to have a school and many Moslawis graduated from this educational institution, regardless of their faith, Christian or Muslim.

(Source: UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development)

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq poised for ambitious plan after Babylon listed by UNESCO

After 36 years of lobbying by Iraq, the ancient Mesopotamian city of Babylon was designated in JulyUNESCO World Heritage Site.

But this may mean even harder work for Baghdad and the local administration, which now have to implement a tough plan for the management and protection of the site that was the seat of successive empires under rulers such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar.

Click here to read the full article.

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Can Iraq get its water wheels on UNESCO World Heritage List?

Iraq has been working for the last three months to rehabilitate its historical norias in Hit, a city located in western Iraq on the banks of the upper Euphrates River.

The Iraqi government aims to inscribe these water wheels, which played an important role in the irrigation of the land for centuries, on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Iraq’s ancient city of Babylon has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Situated 85 km south of Baghdad, the property includes the ruins of the city which, between 626 and 539 BCE, was the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

It includes villages and agricultural areas surrounding the ancient city. Its remains, outer and inner-city walls, gates, palaces and temples, are a unique testimony to one of the most influential empires of the ancient world.

Seat of successive empires, under rulers such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon represents the expression of the creativity of the Neo-Babylonian Empire at its height.

The city’s association with one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the Hanging Gardens—has also inspired artistic, popular and religious culture on a global scale.

(Source: UNESCO)

By John Lee.

Iraqi President Barham Salih has called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to include the ancient city of Babylon in its World Heritage List.

The President made the request at meeting with UNESCO Director Audrey Azoulay in France.

They also discussed the provision of job opportunities within UNESCO for Iraqi workers in the area of “scientific research sector, developing plans and programs to address problems in water resources and environment, improving education and granting priority to scholarship for researchers“.

(Source: Office of the Iraqi President)