A symposium on “Registering Joint Files on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage” was held during the events of the Doha International Book Fair with the participation of Mr. Hamad Hamdan Al-Mohannadi, Cultural Adviser at the Ministry of Culture, and Ms. Jawda Mansour, Assistant to the Culture Program at the Regional Office of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Qatar. The symposium was moderated by Dr. Ali Afifi Ali Ghazi, a researcher in history.

Mr. Al-Mohannadi addressed the importance of intangible cultural heritage in the State of Qatar and the Convention on the Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the common and national country files, and the challenges that the State of Qatar has faced in this field. He said: “The importance of this agreement is that it is signed by about 180 countries in the world, and the elements of cultural heritage in each country are registered at the UNESCO level so that each element becomes part of the human heritage which, in return, is ascribed a global value.

He added that Qatar’s interest in the concept of intangible cultural heritage is rooted in a set of basic referentialities, including the country’s constitution and Qatar Vision 2030, stressing that this interest does not contradict the concept of folklore, because the tangible cultural heritage came within the standard of the Convention, which is why this term is used in Qatar in line with this agreement.

He said that the State of Qatar ratified the Convention in 2008, and began registering files in 2010. The files of falconry, majlis (council) and coffee were registered as joint files with the GCC countries in accordance with the policy of the GCC ministers of culture to cooperate in this regard. He noted that the Ministry of Culture is currently working on joining Arab files registered on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Ms. Mansour, on the other hand, surveyed the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and discussed how joint files on the Representative List of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage should be prepared, as well as the importance of the listing. She touched on the role of states in preserving the intangible heritage present in their territories, and their identification and definition of the various elements of their intangible cultural heritage with the participation of the relevant groups and non-governmental organizations, stressing that international cooperation allows the exchange of expertise and information at the international level, as well as the sharing of practices of conservation and its suggestions.

Dr. Afifi said that the term “intangible cultural heritage” or “living heritage” refers to the practices, perceptions, expressions, knowledge and skills that societies transmit from generation to generation, and the associated instruments, objects, artifacts, and cultural places that are considered by groups, and sometimes by individuals, as part of their cultural heritage. It develops in them a sense of their identity and continuity, and promotes respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.