Syrian Arab Republic
Syria turmoil kills Mrs Al-Assad’s forum
The wife of President Bashar Al-Assad was attempting to gather international cultural experts
By Anna Somers Cocks. News, Issue 224, May 2011
Published online: 28 April 2011
DAMASCUS. Among the victims of the current turmoil in Syria has been the attempt by Asma Al-Assad, right, wife of President Bashar Al-Assad, to put the country on a gentler and more international path.
Mrs Al-Assad, who grew up in Britain, is patron of the Syria Heritage Foundation, a UK charity set up by Wafic Saïd, the Damascus-born businessman who has brokered important deals between the British defence industry and Saudi Arabia. Last month, encouraged by Mrs Al-Assad, the Foundation was to have sponsored the first “Cultural Landscapes Forum” in Damascus together with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
The guest speakers were the crème de la crème of the global art scene, among them: the French minister of culture and the director of the Louvre talking about the Franco-Syrian cultural experience; the director of the British Museum on the history that only objects can tell; the director of the Hermitage Museum on how to modernise a museum; the head of the Aga Khan Trust on how to value culture as an asset; the director general of Unesco on the economic impact of the cultural sector.
The top cultural policy consultants, Lord Cultural Resources, were also there. The winner of the architectural competition for a new National Museum was due to have been announced.
But shooting into crowds and such refinements are incompatible, so the forum was postponed indefinitely and the architect remains unannounced.
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