A workshop run by staff from MOSPA and hosted by the Qatar Museums Authority provided training in the appropriate archaeological response to threats to the historic environment from development. Delegates included planning archaeologists from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE. The course was tailored to the archaeology and landscape of the Gulf region and focused upon the regional challenges of balancing heritage protection with ongoing development.
The Arabian Peninsula is one of the most rapidly developing regions in the world creating significant challenges for professionals working within the heritage sector. Development is important and in some cases the impact on heritage cannot be avoided, however, heritage resources are often unique, and once destroyed cannot be replaced.
The workshop was focused on empowering heritage professionals to make informed decisions about future developments and how to access and present information from a variety of sources.
Informed heritage advice in advance of major development leads to the preservation, excavation and appropriate conservation of heritage assets. The application of digital technologies can ensure heritage professionals have the tools needed to tackle development issues effectively. This places heritage professionals centrally within the development process.
The workshop combined lectures with practical exercises in managing the historic environment under threat from commercial development. This included instruction in GIS using examples of development plans. Participants were assigned to teams with responsibility for planning control and survey in different areas. Each participant was required to survey the area, process the data and, on the final day, give a detailed presentation about the sites, the development and what mitigation response should be recommended.
The workshop also provided the opportunity for participants to assist with outreach to local schools through participation in the Qalaat Al Zubara Archaeological Open Day.