Qatar National Library brought together experts from the Arab region to discuss the fight against the illegal trafficking and smuggling of manuscripts heritage items across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Qatar National Library is the regional centre of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Preservation and Conservation Center (PAC).

IFLA Director Stephane Ipert said that documentary heritage is particularly at risk for trafficking, as it is less likely to be protected by national legislation than other artefacts, and is easier to move illegally. He said that for several years, trafficking and smuggling of heritage items from libraries and archives have been rising.

In the MENA region in particular, this phenomenon is greater due to the number of nations suffering from conflict, upheaval and impoverishment.

Ipert also spoke in March this year at the World Customs Organization (WCO) in Brussels, Belgium, where he presented the activities of the IFLA PAC Regional Center to counter the trafficking of manuscripts, books and archives in the MENA region.

Heritage Trafficking in MENA 1

Dr Rajaa Ben Salamah, General Director of the National Library of Tunisia said that libraries play important roles in the preservation and restoration of documentary heritage and forgotten treasure.

We can help by building a network and raising awareness of the pricelessness and cultural value of artifacts, and making them available to all through digitalisation and publishing, as well as preserving the originals.

As a PAC Regional Center, Qatar National Library aims to create a professional network of collaborative assistance to exchange knowledge and share successful experiences toward the preservation of documentary heritage throughout the region.

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