Manama: Manama, the 2012 Capital of Arab Culture, has become the home of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) after its premises were formally opened by the culture minister.

“The Ministry of Culture has always been committed to heritage conservation and protection,” said Shaikha Mai Bin Mohammad Al Khalifa.

“The opening of the ARC-WH in Manama both reinforces our position and enables us to further support the region in presenting its diverse heritage resources,” Shaikha Mai said as she opened the new premises created to reflect Arabian heritage and contemporary design and located next to the Bahrain National Museum.

Under the agreement between Bahrain and Unesco, the ARC-WH is established to support the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the Arab States region with the underlying aim of protecting, conserving and presenting cultural and natural heritage. The ARC-WH is a category 2 centre under the auspices of Unesco.

The first meeting of the Governing Board reviewed the suggested internal regulations, recruiting the founding team and approving the work plan for the Centre’s first year.

Activities for the coming year include the development of a website in Arabic dedicated to world heritage with a focus on the Arab region, providing assistance to the 19 Arab countries - as classified by Unesco - with properties on the World Heritage List and the translation into Arabic of important publications on World Heritage.

The ARC-WH plans to organise a regional workshop and to host annual regional meetings in order to strengthen the network of world heritage experts in the Maghreb region.

The ARC-WH was established by the General Conference of Unesco at its 35th session in 2009.

Manama is using its status as the 2012 Capital of Arab Culture to engage in a cultural dialogue with local and regional audiences and to invite them to discover the cultures, heritages and identities of different parts of the Arab world.

The activities and events celebrating Manama as the Capital of Arab Culture 2012 are divided into 12 different cultural themes.