Registering The Islamic Architectural Heritage Around The World

The Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), subsidiary of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), is establishing a database relating to the Islamic sites and monuments which constitute the architectural heritage of the Muslim world.

This major initiative is made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of H.R.H. Prince Sultan Ibn Salman Ibn Abdulaziz, Secretary General, Supreme Commission for Tourism, and Founder-President, Heritage Foundation (Al-Turath), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The program to establish a database was included in the work plans of IRCICA starting from 2006 and commended by the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers and the Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers in their sessions held during the last two years.

The database program aims to register the Islamic archeological and architectural heritage assets around the world, depict them by recording comprehensive information on their history and present state, their environment, physical plan and features, past and present functions, restorations done, etc., and by that way, to contribute to their preservation, development and promotion worldwide. The database will include all sorts of information, in a way to meet the needs of all research disciplines and sectors of activity – archeology, architecture, tourism, etc. Establishment and maintenance of the database will involve regular updating. Focal points will be designated by each country, to provide the necessary information on their sites and monuments to IRCICA through an interactive on-line process.

In addition to data collected and elaborated by IRCICA, information is collected and provided to IRCICA by the government institutions and non-governmental organizations in charge or dealing with preservation of monuments in OIC member countries, and in other countries having Islamic architectural heritage. These data will be processed in the Central Base Unit operated by IRCICA using the internationally adopted criteria for the selection and collation.

The Database shall be treated as set of digital information to be kept on Internet which would include detailed information about up to 100000 Islamic architectural heritage  monuments to be entered in an estimated period of ten years. The information will  include descriptions of geographical location, photographs and plans, facts and figures, assessments of present condition and future prospects, for each monument.


About The Program

– Taking into consideration work gaining experiences, technology development and enlargement of the database network, the program will be under permanent improvement and upgrading.
– The program is an Internet based system – it can an be accessed by anyone, anywhere, anytime; it is open to public, up to date, user-friendly to use, integrated, scalable, reliable, centralized; and has widespread usage, mostly current information, and live update.
– The program makes use of a G.I.S.-based system – all properties are geographically based; the properties can be seen on maps and satellite images based on satellite links. A small set of data with one image is accessible on the Google Map and similar programs.
– There are four data levels of dossier for each property: (a) Basic Data; (b) Property per se; (c) Property in Urban context; (d) Supporting documents- digital library and archive.
– The basic level is fully accessible for anyone. Other levels are accessible for registered users, partners in the program, or interested parties affiliated to research institutions or projects.
Registration will be regulated by protocols or agreements.

The aim is to register 100000 properties by incorporating data to be supplied by the OIC member countries’ concerned institutions, during a period of ten years.

Program Objectives

– To properly document the Islamic Architectural Heritage and making it available to all interested
– To create a set of recommendations for preservation and development services integrating tourism industry and supporting activities (e.g. agricultural and use of alternative energies)
– To develop education and training in the fields related with program activities.
– To support development of arts and crafts program related to specific sites as the contribution to tourism development
– To support identification of key themes and regions where heritage is under-represented, their nomination and documentation, and review and selection processes
– To support post-listing assistance and outreach to site management
– To present heritage globally through : Internet services, TV news programs, Publications, Seminars, Promotion of selected destinations through business and political meetings
– To establish ‘The Virtual Museum of Islamic Arts’ aiming to connect virtually architectural monuments with its dislocated artifacts
– To propose accesses , virtual and physical, to monuments througt set up of regional hubs for communication
– To prepare Hypothetical Tourist Routes : regional types, following important historic events, trade roads, Hajj routes, etc.

Implementation Mode

– The Central Base Unit operated by IRCICA will be connected to the focal points to be designated by the Member States and in other countries which have Islamic heritage assets.
– The Central Base Unit will be capable of providing different interfaces for different levels: project management, data entry, editorial work, approval of publishing and viewing. The data, map and internet servers are located at IRCICA, Istanbul.
– The Member State Unit should be responsible for content creation and entry using the on-line questionnaire, and will have remote access for data entry.
– Regional Sub-Centers should be established at a later, development phase to deal with specific aspect of heritage in the regions.

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