The Mediterranean Exchange of Archaeological Tourism honoured Culture Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa by granting her the Paestum Archaeology Award, in the presence of renowned diplomatic and cultural figures, including the Italian Culture Minister and Dr. Talib Al-Refai, the World Tourism Organisation Secretary General.
The award was a tribute to the Culture Minister's diligent efforts to protect Bahrain's cultural and archaeological heritage and serve humanity by boosting intercultural communication all over the world.
Bahrain's delegation comprised Director of the Regional Centre for World Heritage Dr. Mounir Bu-Shanaqi who was granted the Paestum Archaeology Award in 2005 when he was serving as UNESCO Deputy Director General for Culture.
Shaikha Mai thanked Italy for its efforts to serve the world heritage and for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to the Bahraini delegation. She described the Mediterranean Exchange of Archaeological Tourism as an opportunity to grab to exchange experiences aimed at harmonising heritage with tourism.
She said the world has grown more aware of economic and social challenges resulting from the fast-paced growth of the tourism sector.
She underscored Bahrain's efforts to develop tourism and maintain its cultural heritage by promoting it locally and abroad, pointing out the kingdom's celebration of the silver jubilee of Bahrain National Museum, the first contemporary museum in the Arabian Gulf.
She also cited steps and initiatives taken by Bahrain to boost its status on the world heritage map, including the Pearl Road and Bahrain Fort, which were inscribed on the World Heritage List. She underlined the cultural significance of such sites, stressing the kingdom's commitment to the vision of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
She said the Culture Ministry is making enormous efforts to attract tourists from all over the world, stressing Bahrain's commitment to using tourism as a means to achieve sustainable development.
The Paestum Archaeology Award, established in 2005, is awarded to those who contribute, through their commitment and intercultural dialogue, to the valorisation of cultural heritage and the promotion of archaeological tourism.