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Special committee to tackle cultural property trafficking: Oman's Ministry of Heritage and Culture

Muscat - 

The Ministry of Heritage and Culture (MoHC) is taking several steps to create awareness about trafficking of cultural property.

This was announced on the sidelines of a three-day workshop to raise awareness on trafficking of cultural property and boosting capabilities to prevent the same.

Hassan al Lawati, director general of archeology and museums at MoHC, said, “The ministry has received an approval to form a special committee to tackle this issue. The permanent committee will have representatives from other authorities.

“We have organised this workshop to train and educate ministry staff, as well as other authorities dealing with the issue. Trafficking of cultural objects is a relatively new concept to us, but internationally, it’s not. I thank God that there are very few cases of trafficking of objects in Oman.”

He said that as Oman is in a geographically strategic location, cultural objects from abroad could enter the country on their way to respective destinations. “Oman is a pioneer in terms of heritage in the region, and as a member of the UNESCO’s 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, we are ready to help the international community to protect cultural objects from any country.”

Speaking on the occasion, Raphael Roig, programme officer, International Council of Museums, said, “We estimate that the global trafficking of cultural objects is worth US$6bn (RO2.3bn) annually, and the figure could be even greater. Most work is done on the legal aspects, and we’re hoping more work will be done regarding the criminal aspect. “We found that our ‘red lists’, which classify the endangered categories of archeological objects or works of art in the most vulnerable areas of the world is a simple tool, easily used by people who are not experts and helps prevents those objects from being sold.”

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