ICA strengthens its links with the Arab World
David Leitch, ICA Secretary General, and Christine Martinez, Deputy Secretary General (Programme) both attended an International Conference on ‘Archives and the Modern State: Historical Legacies and Visions for the Future’, organized by the National Archives of Egypt in Cairo on 17-19 December 2010.
The conference attracted a good number of archivists and researchers from Egypt, together with representatives from Tunisia, Libya, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and east Jerusalem.
At the opening ceremony at the Opera House on the evening of 17 December, Dr. Abd Al-Wahed Al-Nabawey, the Chairman of the National Archives of Egypt, and Dr Saber Arab, the Chairman of the National Library and Archives of Egypt, both delivered short opening addresses which reaffirmed the key role of archives in the modernization of the State.
Dr.Rifaat Hilal, formerly Chair of the National Archives and now Adviser at the Ministry of Culture, reviewed the recent activities of ARBICA in his capacity as first Vice-President of the Branch. In his speech David underlined the growing importance of the Arabic language in ICA. He also outlined the history of the organization and current initiatives to reform it substantially.
After the speeches, attendees were treated to an amazing performance of Arab music, with expressive singing that really aroused emotions.
On 18 December Christine presented the professional programme of ICA to the conference delegates (see attachement below). She emphasized that ICA was making more money available for programme initiatives than ever before described the many opportunities that now exist for Arab colleagues to become more involved in the organization. On the following day we were shown round the National Archives, where we were especially impressed with the restoration centre and the state of the art reading room. The tour of the Old Library, with its magnificent and lavish exhibition of manuscripts, was absolutely fascinating.
On the evening of 19 December we were invited to attend a question and answer session of ARBICA. We were quite strongly pressed on ICA’s plans to provide more support to colleagues in the Arab world and in particular more content in the Arabic language. The ICA Secretariat expressed its enthusiasm to accept on secondment a suitably qualified Arab-speaking colleague in the Paris office, if the salary was paid by the institution to which (s)he belongs.
In several ways the Cairo Conference was a fitting and memorable conclusion to an action-packed year for the ICA Secretariat. As we were reminded when we visited the Gizeh Pyramids, Egypt gave the world a great civilization. Its National Archives is now emerging as a major centre of excellence in the region. It is extremely encouraging that colleagues from so many Arab countries are taking a lively interest in ICA and are demanding that we spare no effort to meet their expectations.