This section contains a summary of the papers and presentations
given at the regional symposium.

Please note: This is not a full transcription. Therefore, while every effort
has been made to remain as close as possible to the original texts,
certain inaccuracies may exist and for these we apologize.

Cultural Heritage, Urban Life and Conservation in the Arab World

Cultural Heritage, Urban Life and Conservation in the Arab World
Professor Saleh Lamei, Director of the Centre for Conservation and Preservation of Islamic Architectural Heritage, Cairo

In order to learn about our shared urban heritage we will look at 4 urban sites selected for comparison, all belonging to the World Heritage List: Cairo, Jerusalem, Essaouira and Morocco.
This will help us learn how to establish new guidelines in order to manage situations resulting fro urban sprawl and how to suit construction and preservation to the requirements of urban mobility, with its ramifications on the residential and the public services or trade fields.
Current problems include: Intermingled zoning; Low income populations inhabiting sites unable to maintain them (at least with private funding); Pollution; Incompatibility between the old and the new.
We must be concerned with sustainable development, preserving urban historic landscape
One solution could be urban demarcation or zoning
In Egypt, we are concerned with preserving the memory and history of the culture.
In the 19
th and 20th century, modernization, led to the dissonance of European building innovations with the environment created over the last 10 centuries.
Since then, there has been growing indifference of road, traffic, and urban mobility professionals during the construction of infrastructures.
Economic failure caused priorities to shift and historical buildings lost their status. Historical importance lost its relevance under these circumstances. For example: rental fees decreased so dramatically that proper maintenance became impossible.
The rural-urban migration led to the construction of shanty towns. Crime and other social problems arose in areas that lack sanitary infrastructure. Marginal housing has also become rampant. These problems are the result of separate, individual cultures competing for equal means of expression. It is necessary to safeguard and preserve the transmission of previous cultures throughout the generations.
Old Cairo is an example of deterioration due to the result of man made environmental hazards: sewer systems with back up; water pipes that leak and wear out foundations; traffic and fumes that create fractures and erosion to the limestone; independent waste collection.
Solutions lie in the correct reuse and adaptation of historical buildings and the development of new architecture which is not alien, indifferent and oblivious to the current as well as the historical environment it must inhabit.

Essaouira is a Moroccan harbour city situated 450 km South of Rabat and 105 km west of Marrakesh. The unity present in the physical elements represents the co-existence of diverse social, religious and ethnic factors. There is no zoning in the city center, which serves as a central axis or spine to the city. The city was modeled by architect de Vauban. This axis would aid in identifying suitable versus unsuitable plots of land for cultivation. It is a tool used to organise or classify the city into sections.

Questions following the presentation:
1.Taking the Old City of Jerusalem as an example, historic cities are facing many problems, among them ignorance. Appreciation of cultural heritage is as important as physical issues. How can we simplify the planning of solutions? Is it not a huge responsibility?
Answer: It is a matter of education. Public awareness currently does not exist. The people themselves need a lot of attention and care. I founded a society in the Old City of Cairo to tour and draw sites, a sort of workshop to cultivate this awareness. This sort of education should include not only teaching the importance of their own particular heritage but that of others’ as well. The educated can appreciate the adaptive re-use of historical buildings. Correct adaptive reuse means the building serves people as a part of a whole. If the building were in use as it were before, people would respect and include it.
2. Development and conservation are two facets of old cities. Do you really believe that they can coexist? It’s a different city once it has undergone development. Perhaps we should put a limit to development or else we should accept development as adding layers while being conscientious of the old layers.
Answer: I put the emphasis on the value of the old layers. Appreciation equals preservation. I believe in good interventions, that is to say, through methods that are not exaggerated (i.e. the scale of Haussman’s boulevards). Bureaucratic or governmental functionaries should be organized as to the potential for future re-use and the people living in the relevant buildings should be involved.
3. There exists a problem of the old cities being turned into slums. If we solve issues such as those facing Cairo’s, we can raise rentable value of these areas and those living there will be kicked out. What about the social infrastructure? Low-income tenants of historically preserved areas may destroy the buildings?
Answer: Poverty doesn’t mean that people are dirty. The major problem is not poverty but rather how to help people maintain their homes appropriately. These are objectives that the private sector can realize; these are not problems that can be solved by the government. Again, it is a matter of education.
4. In a lot of ways conservation can conflict with government, yet conservation can benefit government and politics. The city has become the tool of political and economical powers. In Arab countries, the problem is one of planning between the new and the old. Is the only solution in the hands of the populace: to dedicate or make awards for the maintaining of cultural heritage.
5. What caused planners at the beginning of the century to starve populations? They wanted to direct populations elsewhere. The agenda today is to move forward quickly but who are the leaders today? Is it the planners, as they once were? Or is it the politicians? The government needs to be educated and its lifestyle prevents it from indulging in education. In Oman, they are re-enacting the same pattern as in Cairo: they are breaking the building code.
6. The owners and tenants should be responsible for the maintenance of the building.
7. The re-use adds a new culture. What about the old use? How do we recycle buildings made to serve one function so that they serve another?
8. At the individual level of the efforts we are discussing, an information database is necessary.
9. The problem is planning and implantation without consulting first. The buildings were built for rich people as masterpieces. They left the buildings to the poor building. Before they are able to maintain they have to be aware, both rich and poor. Contact with the local community is crucial.
10. We have three model cities. We shouldn’t be putting a line around the cities, but rather around the community surrounding the site.

The Natural Environment and Cultural Landscapes

The Natural Environment and Cultural Landscapes
Dr. Muna Hendieh, Department of Environmental Science, Jordan University of Science & Technology

Jordan contains a complex natural environment. These contrasts and ridges within the ecological system are at the source of a common understanding of the natural environment.
Oman, Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley comprise a combination of highland and desert systems containing various species of wildlife and migration paths. The negative impacts of increase in population and their ramifications on this fragile ecosystem obligate us to discuss the sustainability of the region.
The Great Rift Valley is scientifically of very great significance. Its evolution has occurred over the longest duration of time. It contains the lowest point on the earth’s surface within the narrowest section of the earth’s surface.
The crust is splitting apart; there is a massive crustal crack. It is a geological open museum. The Jordan River Valley is at the center of the most important bird migration routes between North and South hemispheres. The species breeding in Africa and Europe pass through this point.
This territory connects 3 continents. The diversity is caused by European, African and Asian species living together. It is a parallel to Mexico, serving the same geographical purposes. The diverse species living there don’t have protection or foraging grounds. Names of the species are either Syrian or Egyptian because of political jurisdiction at the time of research and documentation. Biodiversity is evidenced by the interrelated species like the ibex or the gazelle.
Many sites of value aren’t mentioned in the report that should be added. School curriculums In Jordan should be reviewed and re-formatted. Currently, students do not enjoy studying these subjects. Field trips should be instituted to these special heritage sites. The mountain section in the brochure should be together with a section on this ecologically significant zone. We should concentrate on outdoor museums. We should model Beauvoire sanitation system on those of Petra.
We have conducted an assessment of sites in Jordan. Jarwa, on the Syrian border in Northeast Jordan contains one of the best known Bronze Age water systems. Many sites were visited including Ein Gazal, Ein Jamam, Naqub, Wadi Musa, Baastra and Wadi Araba. In Ein Gazal is the earliest known street. In Finan, there are the copper mines. The copper was mixed with tin for swords where an entire industrial community was organized around their production.

These sites are not large but contain extreme diversity. According to the New Israel Zoning Plan, mention #35, not only land zoning is necessitated but open spaces are required to be conserved. Can we prepare a single corridor which ties together all three countries? Which site would it be were we to choose 1 corridor which would require a combined effort on all parties behalf to sustain ecologically.
It would be from Muk(?) through the Dead Sea to Wadi Harab flowing from West to East.
We can develop ecotourism: local communities would benefit while maintaining the ecosystems. A half a billion birds cross the Great Rift Valley on their migratory route. There are three migrating routes:
a. the Rift Valley.
b. the Turkey-Iran-Kuwait-Oman route.
c. the Central/Eastern Europe-Turkey-Lebanon routes
Estimates are according to Bergoff International.
We must plan human activities, taking species into consideration.
JSSD has built an observatory in Akaba.
The allocation of sites should include the surrounding community as was previously mentioned. At the moment the waterbed beneath the Allenby Bridge is dry. How can PUSH highlight important, dangerous, phenomena? Is there regional management? What about the water shortage? The Dead Sea is disappearing. The original reason why a population occupied a territory is the water. The development is ruining the environment. How can we develop and sustain? If there is no river, there is no water. We must emphasize and develop thinking about the Dead Sea as a Sea (not dead).
What about the current disaster in land use in the Jordan Valley, like the plastic houses used to increase production. Perhaps irrigation is a better solution for the future? For example, in Jericho, the water management plan that was executed in Ein Sultan changed the landscape. Are the people who are managing our resources compatible with the project? They saved water at the expense of the character of the place. Another problem affecting cultural heritage is the political problem of common trust towards common management. It’s possible to farm in a manner which protects nature.
The book is a vital, important and romantic document. It highlights important factors and hides behind them without mentioning problems. Perhaps we can revisit the document and present the problems as well as the ideal.
Wadi AL Habar, which is a natural depression in the Earth, contains a site considered for touring: a monastery marking the start of the journey of John the Baptist. The site is comprised of a well, 4 churches, caves and pools. An accumulation of churches were built one on top of the other because of the dangerous location prone to flooding. There is a path of steps built down to the river, with cross markers on the walls along the way where monks were buried.

Coexisting Traditions and Cultural Itineraries

Coexisting Traditions and Cultural Itineraries
Professor Simon Goldhill, King's College, University of Cambridge

The main achievement has been the contact made between academics and experts in beginning a process that rises beyond boundaries. The special value of the twofold approach being used: academic and developmental, should be acknowledged. PUSH is fostering mutual understanding and interest cross-culturally. The academic facet, which is the grassroots initiative, together with the tours and the economic benefit they will bring have great potential.
Dialogue and economic development are essential tools for peace
Whereas sharing a common heritage across borders in Europe is easy, it seems that it is very difficult in the middle-east. We believe in this proposal to try and weave a common narrative or at least create recognition and respect between all parties involved.
The combination of nature and culture is important. This pilot project by Bezalel and Al-Quds is a feasible model: Science is a global field and this aspect of the Push Project will help it to succeed. Whereas Al Quds already works together with Hebrew University on more than 70 strictly scientific projects, here the science acts to connect people on cultural issues as well. The scientists need to network, build confidence in peace under these difficult political circumstances. Here, Jordanian, Israelis and Palestinians are working together for the sake of humanity.
Transparency is critical. It is difficult to work with the E.U., and to report budget and funding issues precisely.
Intervention on co-existence must be made: Perhaps the English view of the region is deeply distorted, but, historically speaking, nothing was said here that was not said in London in 1890.
The discussion of heritage must be controlled proportionally to urban development. Is there a financial sacrifice to be made? A discussion of the water supply is apparent. Would taking water from a romantic haven destroy our heritage? We must, at the very least, educate our politicians. Surely someone in the government has learned something. We should remember to think in the context of power.
There are two models of co-existence in an empire: The Greece model and the Rome model.
In the Greek model, ruling took effect through culture. Culture was taught by example. The Empire’s hidden power agenda worked off of attraction: be like us and have what we have or be excluded. Power was not enforced by mandate.
In Rome, the Empire adopted the indigenous; absorbed and integrated the conquered culture. Taxes were mandated as the trade-off: you may continue to live your own life as long as you pay taxes.
When two cultures come together, how do we think about their interaction? Romanization means imposing. The complexity of such a situation has become more apparent. Both sides must recognize that they pick up from one another. The pattern of change is one of mutual absorption. We must be aware of the interface. Zones of contact include, the marketplace, entertainment, and personal relationships, (for example: marriage).
There will always be people who will want to put themselves outside of these zones of contact, who engage in the construction of difference, when the actual differences are not so extreme. In this age of Globalization, the desire for separation has become more extreme.
Both Judaism and Islam have changed as a function of their interactions with one another.
We must preserve an even sense of the zones of contact, and avoid the fiction of separation – an ideology that people will die for.
The book must mention, recognize and identify the reality created by this fiction.
We must negotiate space between 2 opposing vectors. The first: Globalism as a form of contact, livability (not lovability); dealing with others necessary. And, the second: Identity and Authenticity leading to the desire for separation.
We are obliged, a priori, to recognize the tension between these two zones as being the place where we must create space. We must be able to distinguish fiction from fact and use the fictions to our advantage.
This discussion of coexisting traditions leads us to our sites. A problem of heritage is deciding what to keep and what is useless; understanding tradition and that it is a living changing, dynamic territory. Are these sites living? How do they exist?
The itineraries or journeys are part of making contact. When one travels by train he has a sense of slowly transitioning through various communities. This rhythm or tempo aids in negotiating, differences, something that is lost in car or air travel. Slow travel introduces form of contact.
What is the status of slums? Does a building not have a natural life like a human body? Does a time not come when it must retire? There are forms of keeping and then forms of not keeping. We need an objective framework for filtering which buildings or nature or writings are appropriate for conservation: a common set of guidelines.
Itineraries bring to mind the writings of certain authors like Benjamin of Tudela. Slow travel brings the impetus for narratives.
From whom do we receive the right to eliminate testimonies? How do we know that we are not about to destroy a book before it’s even published?
Should we focus on single buildings or on the urban landscape? In the modern city, the great enemy of architecture is the car. The modern city needs to build on its own ruins.
An integrated approach is preferred over individualistic preservation concerns.
Points to be emphasized in arriving at a shared understanding of our cultural understanding:
-We must understand in consensus what is being taught.
-We must appreciate that every culture views TIME differently. These perceptions must be interfaced.
-We cannot escape policy. Each country needs a policy on heritage, and not just concerning the visible. If you begin digging to build, you are bound to encounter archaeological ruins and a policy concerning these must be instituted as well. National policy itself is limited. We will always need to make choices. Once you decide to keep a building, you must be able to maintain it. What about the overlap between the political enterprise and the community it represents? Democracy requires the consultation of this population.
What if you building around something? You can change the situation even without touching it physically. You can destroy heritage without actually touching it.
-We must seek the compatibility of the old with the new lifestyle. New functions will encounter old materials. The configuration changes on the surface, at the level of interface. The molecular stays the same. We can innovate in a traditional way. We can preserve the essence of a monument with different materials.
-We need to be concerned not just with the need for change but rather the degree or the measure of change (for example preserving low-class versus high-class buildings).
-We can build individual narrative that lead into group narratives just as we spoke of independent buildings merging into an urban landscape.
How do we select, if selection is subjective by default? How do we set a standard for appreciation, an objective set of guidelines, common to all that allow for the development of future generations’ need for change and simultaneously the development of a concept of the measure or the degree of that change? What makes the value of a place?

PUSH Pilot Sites Presentation by Project Managers

Michael Turner (Bezalel Academy), Dr. Yusuf Natsheh (Al Quds University and Mr. Khaled Nassar (JSSD)

In Israel, we have chosen two sites: Sebastia, near the west bank, and Artas, near Bethlehem. In Sebastia lies the Byzantine tomb of John the Baptist, held in great importance during the crusader period. The cathedral has since become a mosque. It is a medieval village with archaeological sites. It is not possible to reach this site currently but we hope it will become accessible in the future. Its landscape is very special, very rich.

In Artas, south of Bethlehem, there is a reservoir and aqueduct system from Roman times. This infrastructure is comprised of three types of construction: using existing stones, excavating from rock, and the built. The valley of Artas is cultivated by the small village that inhabits it.

In Jordan, the two sites are the Cave of the Sleepers and Moses’ spring. Moses’ spring attracts 1 billion Christians, as well as 1 billion Muslim visitors per year. The Cave of the Sleepers is a natural cave on the way to Philadelphia. In the Byzantine times, the city flourished and adopted the cave. In the 5th and 6th century it was made into a chapel and was later converted into a mosque .There is cistern in front of the cave. There are six tombs, three on the right, and three on the left. The cave attracts 100 000 visitors per year. Numbers are expected to increase. Moses Springs are located near Mount Nebo. There are 12 springs dedicated to the 12 tribes. There are two churches with beautiful mosaics.

In Israel the sites selected include Gesher and Beit Shean.


Water is one of the most important issues. It has ramifications on almost every aspect of life. Is the common denominator of all the sites to be water, or the regional impact, or the principles and wisdom, which lay behind them?

Perhaps, the sites should not be so remote geographically. They need to be perceived as crossing borders, they need to cause us to forget borders. We started with the idea of three sites to one narrative, and three narratives to one site. The evolution of the discussion makes this outlook obsolete.

Gesher may be an ideal site, which tries to fuse the Sebastia and other sites, which are related to the train system. Just as in Sarajevo, it was agreed upon to rebuild the Mostar Bridge, it seems all parties would be in favor of restoring the Gesher.

We need criteria for choosing sites, according to the focus or concentration of our shared heritage. What is missing from the book is spirit: the prayers, the folklore, the stories, the traces and evidence of human rites and rituals.