PARIS, - UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and French President Francois Hollande co-chaired the Donors' Conference, held in Paris to mark the establishment of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH).

ALIPH is a foundation which will finance projects for the implementation of preventive, emergency protection, conservation and restoration programs for cultural property endangered due to armed conflict. Also in attendance were UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Jack Lang, President of Institut du Monde Arabe and Jean-Luc Martinez, CEO of the Louvre Museum as well as HRH Prince Khaled Al Faisal Al Saoud, Governor of Makkah Region, and Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah Al Mubarak Al Sabah, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs of the State of Kuwait and many other representatives from the international cultural scene.

During the conference held at the Louvre Museum, all countries, foundations and private donors in attendance declared their support for the initiative and a total of more than $75 million dollars was pledged to the fund.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced that the United Arab Emirates would make a financial contribution of $15 million dollars to ALIPH. Additional pledges were made from France for $30 million dollars, Saudi Arabia for $20 million dollars, Kuwait for $5 million dollars, Luxembourg for 3 million Euros, Morocco for $1.5 million dollars and a private donation of $1 million dollars came from Thomas Kaplan. Morocco also announced its will to join the network of safe havens.

In addition, Italy announced its commitment to continue the work of its task force to train police, curators and restorers and its determination in bringing the project of a resolution forward, with France, to the UN Security Council. Germany pledged expertise to mobilizing the fund and Switzerland pledged its support in enabling ALIPH's establishment in Switzerland as a humanitarian endeavor. China also unveiled that it will be the first Asian country to respond to the call of the Abu Dhabi Declaration and make the China National Museum a safe haven to temporarily host endangered material culture in conflict zones from across the world.

Key actions resulting from these donations made to ALIPH will drive advancements in inventorying of cultural property, monitoring its state of conservation, planning risk preparedness to effectively respond to threats to cultural property, as well as training and providing logistical support for preventive and protective measures, and implementing rehabilitation and restoration projects for damaged cultural property � all in line with the principles and conventions of UNESCO.

Speaking in the Donors' Conference, H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior said: "On behalf of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, I am honored to be present at this important and historic moment to gather the international community together to mark the establishment of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas."

He continued: "Since the Abu Dhabi conference, we have made huge strides towards the development of a robust strategy to ensure that the catastrophic destruction of priceless cultural artefacts are preserved for future generations. It is a great achievement to see that the strategies set out in the Abu Dhabi Declaration materialize as impactful and sustainable means to safeguard cultural resources. As momentum grows around the Foundation's initiatives, we look forward to welcoming future public and private donors who are inspired to unite with us to protect heritage in all its diversity and richness."

Mohamed Al Mubarak, special representative of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to ALIPH stated: "This foundation has now been established as the backbone to attract, leverage, manage and invest resources for the implementation of a preventive and emergency protection programmes for cultural property in danger of destruction, damage or looting due to armed conflict, and to contribute to the rehabilitation of cultural heritage, as well as building capacity for professionals working in these situations."

To reinforce the need for ALIPH, testimonies were delivered by dignitaries from Mali, Irak and Afghanistan during a session entitled Allies for Diversity during the Donors' Conference. Representatives from the Electrum Group, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The World Monuments Fund were in attendance to announce private contributions to ALIPH. Richard Kurin, Provost of The Smithsonian Institution, and Markus Hilgert, Director of the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Pergamonmuseum, Berlin spoke about the lessons learned and the new challenges in the field of heritage protection and closing remarks were delivered by Audrey Azoulay, Minister of Culture and Communication of France.

The event follows the International Conference on Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas which took place in Abu Dhabi on December 2 and 3, 2016. The conference concluded with the Abu Dhabi Declaration, in which the international community pledged to create an international support fund for programs aimed at safeguarding cultural heritage, as well developing an international refuge network for endangered cultural property.

Source: Emirates News Agency