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RIYADH: The Heritage Commission kicked off day one of the International Workshop on Industrial Heritage in the JAX district to promote awareness of industrial heritage, its preservation, and diversification. 

The workshop, which runs from May 7 to May 8 in Diriyah, will cover topics such as industrial heritage on a global scale, industrial heritage within the Kingdom, and case studies of the revitalization and restoration of industrial heritage sites. 

The workshop features global experts who will lecture and share their case studies, including Tosh Warwick from the UK, Mitsuko Nishikawa from Japan, and Mirhan Damin, who will discuss her expertise in industrial heritage in Egypt. 

The opening remarks for the workshop were delivered by Jasser Al-Harbash, CEO of the Heritage Commission, who highlighted some of the Kingdom’s notable industrial heritage sites, particularly in the mining sector.

Following the opening remarks, several participants and speakers at the workshop were honored with plaques for their contributions to the field, including Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Khalifa from the Arab Regional Center for World Heritage in Bahrain, Amal Al-Harbi from the JAX district, and Dr. Massimo Preite from the International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage, among others.

The first session of the workshop provided a broader overview of international industrial heritage, with panel members sharing insights from Germany, Latin America, and the UK. 

Marion Steiner, secretary-general of the TICCIH, gave a lecture on the interpretation and global perspective of industrial heritage. 

She stressed that a global understanding of industrial heritage leads to a better understanding of each other and sparks peace-building in the minds of men and women.  

Steiner told Arab News that gatherings like the workshop hosted by the Saudi Heritage Commission serve “as an element in a process which could lead to a better understanding of what connects us across places and people through history and time.”

Miles Oglethorpe, president of the TICCIH, discussed the broad definition of industrial heritage and the extensive list of sectors that fall within this category, such as agriculture, mining, oil and gas, heavy industries, and water desalination.

He explained that industrial heritage comprises sites, structures, and complexes, as well as their associated documentation and history.

“It includes both material assets and immovable and movable and intangible dimensions such as know-how, the organization of work and workers, and the complex social and cultural legacy that has shaped the life of communities and brought major organizational changes to entire societies and the world in general,” said Oglethorpe.

As part of the workshop, the commission set up multiple VR stations that allow users to explore the Kingdom’s industrial heritage sites, including oil and gas projects. These stations provided information on engineering feats such as the Tapline, dating back to the oil boom in the 1950s.

By hosting this international workshop, the Kingdom aims to take a proactive approach to documenting its industrial heritage. The workshop invited participants to share international expertise, exchange insights, and engage in debates on strategies for industrial heritage preservation.

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