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UAE’s treasured past to be preserved

Sajila Saseendran / 18 December 2012

The UAE’s ‘treasures of the past’ sites are to be protected by a federal law which is likely to be passed in 2013, a senior official said on Monday.

The law to protect ancient sites, traditional buildings and other antiquities of the UAE has already been passed by the Federal National Council (FNC) and is now awaiting the approval from the Ministry of Justice, according to Rashad Mohammed Bukhash, a member of the FNC and National Council for Tourism and Archaeology.

“More than 3,200 sites in the country will be protected in addition to other things including ancient documents (under the law),” he told Khaleej Times on Monday.

“If someone wants to demolish (a heritage building) or sell something (related to the history) there is no legislation now (to prevent it),” he said on the sidelines of the third International Architectural Conservation Conference and Exhibition.

Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai,  UAE Minister of Finance and Chairman of Dubai Municipality (DM) opened conference and exhibition held at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah have local regulations related to the conservation of architectural heritage and in Dubai, owners of ancient homes or buildings are required to secure the permission from the civic body to make any renovations to the building, including its destruction.

The federal law is expected to unify these rules and extend them to other emirates. It will also protect old documents that are considered a part of the UAE’s culture and history. Private owners will not be allowed to sell such documents to anyone except the government of the UAE.

The law will also have provisions to penalise those indulging in any type of vandalism or destruction of a heritage property as it will be considered a criminal act. “As a matter of fact, this legislation should be out before the Unesco accepts our (proposed) sites in the list of World Heritage Sites. We are hoping to get the law passed in 2013,” said Bukhash, who is also the Director of the Architectural Heritage Department of DM and the Chairman of the UAE Architectural Heritage Society.

In his inaugural speech, the Director-General of DM Hussain Nasser Lootah said the municipality has restored 178 ancient buildings during the past 20 years.

sajila@khaleejtimes.com

 
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