top of page

Session II
Protecting Cultural Heritage (Iraq and Yemen)


HE Shaikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait


HE Ms. Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities

HE Abdullah Lamlas, Minister of Education of Yemen

HE Serbesdt Nabi, Representative of Government of Kurdistan Region, Iraq


Speech of HE Shaikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,

Your Royal Highness,

Mr. President,

Dear brother Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain,

My dear honorable guest, Speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, Marzouq Al-Ghanim,

Distinguished guests,

Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you all.

          When I was foreign minister, the two principle and fundamental concerns that I had was how to protect my country from foreign aggression, or at least to minimize foreign interference in our domestic affairs? and secondly how to maximize the benefits of interaction with the outside world? In both of these concerns, protection and survival.

          We have to make an enormous investment in the area of both hard power and soft power.

          As my former teacher, professor Joseph Nye, described soft power, and I quote: “Soft Power is the ability to persuade through culture, values and ideas, as opposed to the hard power, which conquers or coerces through military might.”

          We are quite fortunate to have such a distinguished group of speakers on this panel to explain to us the nature of this soft power, especially in regard to Yemen and Iraq.

          We have been feeding the audience throughout this morning with heavy doses of cultural calories, but I think the time has come when the audience needs to have another kind of calories. For that reason, we have to cut short some of the presentations today, and I have to exercise my little dictatorial authorities as the moderator of this session by having five minutes each, so we would not have a revolt on our hand with audience. Agreed? So, let’s start with my extinguished sister Shaikha Mai Al-Khalifa from Bahrain.


Speech of HE Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa

President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities

Thank you all,

Good evening,

His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal,  

I have the pleasure to be with you in this meeting.

His Excellency Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain,

Thank you very much for this invitation and its subject matter.

Your Highnesses, Excellencies

Distinguished guests

          I will not prolong, as my dear brother Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah has asked me to brief, I will not prolong nor repeat what has been said. In this sense, we should briefly explain some small experiments.

          Preservation of heritage and identity is our only means of true resistance. I always say that culture is an act of resistance in which we preserve identity.

          The Ministry of Culture and culture officials preserve or defend the identity. Hence the establishment of a regional center for the defense of World Heritage in Bahrain to preserve the heritage of the archaeological sites abounding in the Arab world and to be for the experts that we have and feel proud of them and even more proud of having them with us in the Kingdom of Bahrain to work and preserve this heritage.

          There is a pioneering and upscale experience that we must learn from and maintain through these institutions or small contributions.

          Small contributions are always growing, and the role of the Arab Regional Center for World Heritage is an invitation to specialists to visit it and see its experience where it had a detailed and important role in these exceptional situations experienced by the Arab world.

          We all know what is going on in Yemen, Iraq and Syria. We feel proud to have scholars from the Kingdom of Bahrain with the specialized experts who are trying to maintain these sites. we cooperate with UNESCO through the investment initiative and focus on infrastructure through which we look forward to establishing a high society.

          Education is an effective and important weapon, but what do we teach in our curricula if we forget philosophy, logic and humanities?

          What do we offer to a generation that learns technology but overlooks the human side that that helps people to advance.  Let us focus on the role of culture in the preservation of identity. I reiterate that small experiments start small, but their impact extends and spreads and gives positive results.

          I hope I did not prolong, and I did stick to the time set by Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah.

Thank you.


Speech of HE Abdullah Lamlas

Minister of Education of Yemen

Good morning,

          I am Dr. Abdullah Lamlas, Minister of Education in the Republic of Yemen and I am delighted to be a guest of this world forum at the kind invitation of Sheikh Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain, Chairman of Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation.

          In fact, we are in Yemen our problem is grave. 90% of the population are susceptive of culture and peace. 10% is ridden in Yemen by an ancient culture that has devoted and ruled Yemen for more than 1200 years until the September 26 revolution came and the Imam regime was eliminated, but they returned to us in September 2014 and want to rule Yemen again.

          This minority population does not exceed 10%. They came upon everything. (They ate green and dry) since their childhood and they convince their children that they are the rulers and the rest are servants, they are masters, and the rest are slaves.

          Five years of war during which they are trying to rule our country and our people. Had not our brothers in the Gulf States answered our calls and initiate to help us, they would have succeeded in that.

          Certainly, it is this group that brought tragedies and catastrophes. The culture of this group must be reformulated, and their behavior must be reformed as well. Otherwise, we will never stop fighting each other.

          Europe in the Middle Ages, when it got rid of church rule, democracy, love, peace and stability prevailed. But as for us we still live in a culture of power.

          Education is very important, and the preservation of heritage and cultural heritage is very important, but the behavior of the people, the behavior of this category, which created the sources of funding from the sale of heritage to get money. They sold antiquities, you may have heard a week ago that the sale of stolen relics had reached more than $ 1,000,000. Many of the antiquities have become vulnerable to sale and looting and are therefore used to finance the war in Yemen. The war is not between the Houthis and our brothers in Saudi Arabia or the UAE. The war is by a few minorities against the large category in Yemen.

          The repercussions of this war have resulted in more than 2,500 schools becoming unaffordable to children, more than 23,000 teachers have been displaced from Houthi-controlled areas and more than 75,000 students have been displaced from Houthi-controlled areas to liberated areas. Only 15% of the area of ​​the Republic of Yemen remains unliberated, but this 15% is the most densely populated of the Republic of Yemen.

          We want to prepare our curricula in the light of the culture of stability, peace, coexistence and non-hatred.

          I hope that justice, peace and stability will prevail in all countries of the world and for our Arab and Islamic peoples and our Yemeni people in particular.


Speech of HE Serbesdt Nabi

Representative of Government of Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Thank you so much.

Your Excellencies,

Your highnesses,

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain,

          It is my pleasure to participate here on behalf of the Minister of Higher Education.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

          We are deeply convinced that heritage is more important than the concept known about it.

          It in fact plays vital role in promoting values ​​of peace and coexistence.

          It is first and foremost an educational and cultural bet and an area of ​​intellectual and ideological conflict between two fronts. The first defends the values ​​of coexistence, equality, pluralism and tolerance. The second front is one that seeks to promote stereotypical and obscure cultural values.

          In this regard, the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research in the Kurdistan Region attached special importance to the national heritage of the Kurdish people and the heritage of other co-existent nationalities in the region such as Syrians, Assyrians, Turkmen and Arabs in the curricula of higher education and humanities departments whose cultures were absent in most of the ideological agendas of the Ba’ath Party system. And it’s furthermore threaded nowadays by the rise of extremist ideological discourse of Islamic militant groups.

          The diverse and plural system promotes the richness of the region’s culture and identity and consecrates the values ​​of tolerance and communication between its components on the basis of equality and difference. The ministries of the Kurdistan region, especially the Ministry of Education, Culture and Natural Resources, share this conviction and translate this into the curricula of education and higher education and in the decisions and laws issued in this regard.

          The commitment of the Kurdistan Regional Government to international conventions and agreements related to the protection of human and natural heritage led to the issuance of several laws that would protect the natural heritage in the region and revitalized it. The laws concern nature reserves , parks and livestock . And ensure that it is not damaged. We must remember in this context that the former regime had destroyed over 4000 villages and farms in the Kurdistan region, drained thousands of natural springs, wiped out hundreds of forests and forest properties, and abandoned millions of their inhabitants in their wars against the Kurds and now the landscape looks very different.

          The region’s ministries, especially the Ministry of Education, are also concerned with the heritage of the ancient population, religious believers and religious doctrines, which are very important to be mentioned such as Yezidis and Kakaizm and Zoroastrianism.

          The region is now a refuge for the very ancient Iraqi beliefs, such as Mandaeans, whose followers in the Kurdistan region find security, safety and freedom.

          The Ministries of Culture, Education, and Tourism in the Region also attach importance to the historical heritage of the Mesopotamian peoples, especially historical monuments such as castles and ancient temples of Mesopotamia. It seeks by all possible means to preserve it as a common human heritage as well as the Cultural and linguistic heritage of nationalities and religious identities.

          The Government and the Ministry of Education allowed them to practice and experience national traditions and has ensured appropriate conditions for the promotion of their cultural and linguistic identity.

          We firmly believe that heritage in its physical and moral aspects and in essence is one of the most important pillars of our Kurdish and Islamic identity, and that this heritage is the bearer of collective memory and is crucial in promoting and consolidating the values ​​of coexistence.

          But there are challenges facing us in this context. The first is the challenge arising from the political and cultural legacy of the former regime inherited by institutions and cultural forces that still sympathize with the present in the logic of the former regime and its exclusion mentality.

          Perhaps the most tangible evidence of this is the demographic change policies that follow the regime and are known in Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution in the so-called disputed areas, and the Iraqi Constitution demands the normalization of the situation and erase the effects of the demographic change that took place over the years, but the central Iraqi government is stalling even now since 2005 ,since the issuance of the Iraqi Constitution.

          The second challenge is also demographic, it concerns the existential threat to heritage-protecting groups and identities, particularly nationalist and endangered cultural identities such as the Yazidis, Mandaeans, Sabeans, and Christians of the Nineveh Plain who have forcibly emigrated from their historic areas.

          The relationship of heritage to the place seems to be close in this context.

          The social factor of heritage, where it is uprooted from its place of origin and abandoned for any reason is not due to heritage, but social factors to ensure its survival and continuity.

          This is where the moral responsibility of the international community and the Iraqi state, which calls upon us to condemn these crimes and to consider theme genocide crimes against the human culture, especially the plight of the Yazidis, and all of you know the terrible tragedy that took place in the areas of Sinjar and Mosul.

          The burdens of this total social and cultural devastation that took place in those areas will require us to rehabilitate and resettle local communities in their areas of origin and develop them economically, culturally and socially and ensure their prosperity.

Thank you so much for listening.



bottom of page