Qatar National Library Leads Discussion on Heritage Trafficking in the Middle East and North Africa

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Qatar National Library brought together experts from the Arab region to discuss the fight against the illegal trafficking and smuggling of manuscripts heritage items across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The opening speech at the event was given by Dr. Hamda Al-Sulaiti, Secretary General of the Qatari National Committee for Education, Culture and Science.

Stephane Ipert, Director of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Preservation and Conservation Center (PAC) Regional Center at Qatar National Library, was joined by Dr. Rajaa Ben Salamah, General Director of the National Library of Tunisia, and Dr. Alsharqi Dahmali Member of the Advisory Council of the International Council of Museums in Morocco. The event was moderated by Maxim Nasra, Coordinator of IFLA PAC Regional Center at the Library.

Qatar National Library is the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Preservation and Conservation Center (PAC) Regional Center for Arab countries in the Middle East.

Stephane Ipert, said: “Documentary heritage is particularly at risk for trafficking, as it’s less likely to be protected by national legislation than other artefacts, and is easier to move illegally.

“For several years, trafficking and smuggling of heritage items from libraries and archives have been rising. In the MENA region in particular, this phenomenon is greater due to the number of nations suffering from conflict, upheaval and impoverishment.”

Ipert also spoke in March this year at the World Customs Organization (WCO) in Brussels, Belgium, where he presented the activities of the IFLA PAC Regional Center to counter the trafficking of manuscripts, books and archives in the MENA region.

Dr. Rajaa Ben Salamah, General Director of the National Library of Tunisia said:

“Libraries play such important roles in the preservation and restoration of documentary heritage and forgotten treasure. We can help by building a network and raising awareness of the pricelessness and cultural value of artifacts, and making them available to all through digitalization and publishing, as well as preserving the originals.”

As a PAC Regional Center, Qatar National Library aims to create a professional network of collaborative assistance to exchange knowledge and share successful experiences toward the preservation of documentary heritage throughout the region.

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