Maldives Aims to Participate in a UNESCO Convention to Protect its Intangible Heritage

Maldives Promotion House – The Maldives, a participant in the World Heritage Convention and the Cultural Diversity Convention of UNESCO, has also decided to participate in UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, established in 2008.

After the cabinet approved the proposal by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, a new legislation draft was presented to the Parliament. According to the ministry, the new legislation will hopefully be passed before the end of this year.

“We have had no effort to safeguard either tangible or intangible cultural heritage in the Maldives,” the Minister of State for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ahmed Naseer said. “It is very easy to see things like poetry, music, language, and dance disappear if they are not practiced. We need to have a law enacted to outline these practices.”

Under UNESCO definitions ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ is any “practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.” According to the convention, the protected of cultural elements must be supported by local and international communities.

Naseer stressed that the government seeks to gain expertise and guidance from UNESCO, and that training Maldivians in cultural preservation is now a major priority. The ministry also noted that this cultural heritage must be protected to further develop the tourism industry and to attract more visitors and travellers.

“We have a market for the natural aspect of the Maldives, and now we will be able to add cultural attractions and destinations. I think it will draw tourists interested in cultural conservation,” Deputy Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mamduh Waheed, said.

Over 130 countries have signed to participate in the convention. The main targets of the convention as stated by UNESCO are to “safeguard the intangible cultural heritage; to ensure respect for the intangible cultural heritage of the communities, groups and individuals concerned; to raise awareness at the local, national and international levels of importance of the intangible cultural heritage, and of ensuring mutual appreciation thereof; and to provide for international cooperation and assistance.”

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