Integrating Cultural Heritage in Conservation in Soqotra

This 30 month project will address the needs of cultural heritage on Soqotra, a Yemeni archipelago between Yemen and the Horn of Africa, as well as conducting activities to promote the use of the endangered Soqotri language.

The Heritage of Soqotra

Soqotra is rich in unique biodiversity and has a range of cultural heritage, ranging from rock art and other prehistoric monuments to built heritage such as cemeteries and medieval buildings.

The rapidly growing population of Soqotra is being further swollen due to conflict in mainland Yemen, which is increasing the demand for development and putting heritage on the islands at risk. The arrival of large numbers of newcomers with little affinity to local heritage has also led to direct damage, including graffiti on rock art panels. The endangered Soqotri language is also further threatened as the proportion of residents on the island who speak it diminishes.

Addressing the Needs of Cultural Heritage in Soqotra

In this 30 month project, experts based in the UK and Germany will work with Yemenis in the creation of a database of Soqotri heritage, providing training on how to maintain and work with this new resource. This training will be used to generate at least 40 threat assessments and the use of the database will be integrated into holistic approaches for the maintenance of heritage in Soqotra.

In addition to this, poetry competitions will be held to celebrate the Soqotri language and local school pupils will be invited to visit newly recorded, local cultural heritage sites and participate in workshops.

Project Details

Location: Yemen, Middle East, Asia Organiser(s): The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Funder(s): British Council Cultural Protection Fund in partnership with DCMS Funding received: £484,110 Commencement Date: 04/2017 Project Status: Active
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