Cultural heritage is a valuable commodity and a critical component of economic development. In addition to attracting visitors, cultural heritage sites stimulate secondary economic activity by attracting adherents, businesses, and artisanal activities. Additionally, related artistic practices, performing arts, and culinary arts often generate additional jobs. This economic value can be extremely beneficial to a community, especially after disaster or change.
However, cultural heritage is often lost when it is removed from its cultural context. For example, the art and manuscripts of the city of Timbuktu were stolen during the Civil War, but the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library were able to restore and digitize the manuscripts for future generations. Similarly, a museum can lose its cultural identity by acquiring a piece of art without permission from the source community.
Syria’s cultural life is rich and varied. Its major cities, such as Aleppo and Damascus, have long been cultural centres. Although many museums have been abandoned, there are still a number of galleries displaying modern art. Music is also very important in the culture of the country. Nearly every city has its own music festival. There are also theatres, film festivals, and television soaps.
Unfortunately, attacks on cultural heritage have increased dramatically in recent years. These attacks on cultural heritage and individuals have become a critical security and humanitarian challenge. By protecting cultural diversity, we can help improve social cohesion and provide opportunities for crises to be resolved. Respect for cultural diversity also helps build a strong national dialogue.
Unfortunately, cultural heritage is often endangered by armed conflict, social persecution, and looting. In Timbuktu, for example, historical manuscripts were burned. In Palmyra, ISIS destroyed ancient trading centers, and the Taliban looted ancient treasures. In Myanmar, the Rohingya and Uighurs are being persecuted. In China, the Chinese government is also persecuting Tibetans and Uighurs.
In 2017, France and the United States launched a program called Aliph to protect cultural heritage. The program is meant to help protect the world’s cultural heritage. Among the goals of Aliph is to secure artworks and cultural artifacts and to promote cooperation and humanitarian action. The goal is to safeguard cultural heritage for future generations.
Syria’s rich cultural heritage includes music and art. The jazz Lives in Syria Festival is held annually in Damascus and Aleppo and features performances by the Syrian Jazz Orchestra. The orchestra also features singer Ribal al-Khudari. Other forms of art in Syria include traditional dances. The dabke, for example, varies depending on region, while the sama is danced in Aleppo.
Syria’s cultural heritage has been exposed to numerous threats over the past decade. Looting, theft, and illegal trafficking have destroyed significant archaeological sites.