Thursday 14 October 2021
  • £2.4M additional support for projects across Middle East and Africa 
  • Addresses on-going threat from conflict and climate change to cultural heritage 
  • Support from Cultural Protection Fund hailed ‘transformative’ and integral by grantees

The British Council has today announced the UK Cultural Protection Fund will award more than £2.4M in follow-on grants to international partnership projects supporting vital heritage protection in the Middle East and North and East Africa.

The 20 projects already underway are fighting the growing impact of conflict or climate change on cultural heritage in Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Sudan, Syria, Uganda and Yemen. These urgent issues threaten both tangible heritage, such as historic places, buildings or artefacts; and intangible heritage, like oral traditions, rituals or craftsmanship. The additional Cultural Protection Fund grants will continue to allow global experts to collaborate with international partners and communities to mitigate risk and preserve cultural heritage vital to each country’s culture and identity.

The grantees include partnerships between museums, universities, libraries, orchestras, cultural foundations and government ministries. The devastating impact of war on Syria’s historic archeology is addressed with the creation of a new organisation to preserve, restore and reimagine Raqqa’s historic monuments. The project, Strengthening Heritage Preservation in Syria, will provide local experts with essential skills to better protect their archaeological heritage.

President of Heritage for Peace, Dr Isber Sabrine, coordinator of the project, outlined the importance of this work: 

‘Since the government lost control in 2012 and the ISIS occupation in 2014, destruction, looting, vandalism, and iconoclasm in Raqqa have made the situation more difficult and the need to act more urgent. Through this project we were able to document and protect cultural heritage which gave us hope to make a big change in Raqqa and to heal a society affected by terrorism and war. It is an important step for a better future for the people in Raqqa. Without the support of the Cultural Protection Fund we would not be able to do this.’

A community museum project in Sudan, where conflict and climate change have severely impacted both tangible and intangible heritage, has resulted in Green Heritage, a series of exhibitions highlighting the country’s rich archaeological history and the urgent threat of climate change to resources, livelihoods and heritage. 

Amani Yousif Basheer of Sheikan Community Museum in Sudan, said: 

‘The Cultural Protection Fund grant for the Western Sudan Community Museum project has had a transformative effect on Sudan's cultural heritage by making it belong to the community. Museums have now become a hub for many community activities for the first time in Sudan.’

The Melting Snow and Rivers in Flood project aims to shield the Rwenzori Mountains in Western Uganda from the effects of climate change, with responsible tourism initiatives, flood mitigation and knowledge exchange programmes. 

Barbra Babweteera, Director of the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda, says:

‘The Cultural Protection Fund has been instrumental in preserving Uganda’s cultural heritage affected by climate change. From reinforcing the banks of the Nile at the site of Wang Lei, to recording endangered intangible heritage in the Rwenzori Mountains, we are immensely grateful for the opportunities to preserve Ugandan culture that this funding has provided.'  

The Cultural Protection Fund continues a five-year partnership between British Council and the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to protect threatened heritage in and around the Middle East and Africa. 

Stephen Stenning, Head of Arts & Society, British Council, says:

‘Since the UK established the pioneering Cultural Protection Fund in 2016 there has been an increased awareness of the need to protect global cultural heritage, be it from conflict or climate change. There is also a growing recognition that cultural heritage can be a powerful tool for bringing communities together and for promoting tolerance, by connecting our pasts, our presents and our futures. Given the challenges of our time, this work is critical and the British Council is delighted that the UK’s Cultural Protection Fund is continuing to partner and support such extraordinary and varied work.’

The 20 projects awarded funding are:

The Youth Heritage Gatherers Collective of the Middle East, Syria  

  • £165,000 to protect the intangible heritage of Syriac Orthodox and Assyrian Christians, small religious minority communities in Syria whose heritage is threatened by marginalisation, the threat of violence and trauma from conflict. The project will train young people in digital archiving and data preservation to gather oral histories, interviews, photos and videos.
  • Partners: The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex (UK); Suryoyo Patriarchal Youth Department, Refcemi (UK).

Traditional Music & Conflict, Syria 

  • £75,000 to preserve and promote traditional Syrian musical heritage by enhancing the online Syrian Music Map, adding more musical entries and making it accessible globally. Young refugee musicians will attend composition workshops to continue the creation of traditional Syrian music and safeguard it for future generations.
  • Partners: Action for Hope (Lebanon); Ettijahat Independent Culture (Lebanon); Book Forum (Iraq); Aga Khan Music Initiative (Central Asia).

Douroub 2 (Pathways): Stories & Memories of Syria, Syria

  • £125,000 to rescue, restore, and revive the intangible cultural heritage of Syria by preserving, documenting and sharing stories and cultural memories of Syria and its people. The project will create a web series, animated films and a book of Syrian folk stories.
  • Partners: Ettijahat Independent Culture (Lebanon).

Digital Cultural Heritage, East Africa  

  • £72,480 to protect valuable coastal heritage in Tanzania by creating virtual models of the Kilwa Kisawani heritage site, at risk due to rising sea levels, flooding and wind erosion caused by climate change.
  • Partners: University of St Andrews (UK); University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania); Ugandan Ministry of Tourism (Uganda); Wildlife and Antiquities, the Department of Museums and Monuments in Kampala (Uganda).

Training in Restoration Techniques for Traditional Houses, Beirut

  • £157,022 to build local capacity to restore the traditional houses of Beirut that have suffered extensive damage due to conflict, post conflict reconstruction and the recent explosion in the Port of Beirut. The project will carry out restoration work, provide training to local people on traditional craftsmanship and create a toolkit to support future heritage protection of the Old City of Beirut.
  • Partners: Arcenciel (Lebanon); European Institute of Cooperation and Development (IECD, France); Beirut Heritage Initiative (BHI, Lebanon); Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA, Lebanon).

Green Heritage, Sudan

  • £153,000 to produce permanent exhibitions in three community museums of Sudan, where conflict and climate change have severely impacted tangible and intangible heritage through destruction and displacement. The exhibitions will draw attention to the rich archaeology of Sudan and raise awareness of the urgent threat of climate change to resources, livelihoods and heritage.
  • Partners: The British Institute in East Africa (Kenya); National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM, Sudan); ICCROM-ATHAR Regional Conservation Centre (UAE); Cambridge Heritage Research Centre (CHRC, UK); Mapping Africa’s Endangered Archaeological Sites and Monuments Project (MAEASaM) led by Cambridge University (UK); Children’s Civilisation and Creativity Centre (Egypt); Mallinson Architects & Engineers (UK).

Preserving Needle Work & Hand Embroidery Traditions, Yemen

  • £33,984 for the protection and preservation of the intangible cultural heritage practices of traditional Yemeni needle work and embroidery, at risk due to displacement of communities, lack of resources and increased cost of materials. Through training and skills development, cataloguing and databasing, the project will safeguard the pieces of embroidery and the skills to create them for future generations.
  • Partners: Felix Arabia International (Yemen); Yemen Education and Relief Organisation (YERO, Yemen).

Maritime & Making Heritage Project, Iraq

  • £111,450 to project Iraq’s threatened watercraft heritage, through the creation of a boat club site at the Basra Museum. The project will engage local young people in the use of traditional boat forms, offering boat excursions and sporting activities.
  • Partners: Safina Projects (UK); Ministry of Culture (Iraq); Ministry of Higher Education (Iraq); Ministry of Sports & Youth (Iraq); the Iraqi Water Sports Federation (Iraq).

Building a Sustainable Future for Traditional Crafts, Yemen

  • £103,650 to protect the unique cultural heritage of Soqotra, an island off the coast of Yemen. The project will document little known traditional practices, focusing on traditional clothing design and manufacture, locally designed tools and musical instruments. The project will establish a sustainable training programme and apprenticeship scheme to develop a new generation of artisans, as well as hosting two heritage festivals to raise awareness in the community.
  • Partners: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (UK); General Organisation for Antiquities and Monuments (Soqotra, Yemen); Environmental Protection Authority (Soqotra, Yemen); the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (Bahrain).

Protecting Museum Collections through Encoded Solutions, Iraq & Yemen

  • £86,760 to continue the programme of safeguarding thousands of museum artefacts in Iraq and Yemen through the application of the traceable liquid SmartWater®. The project will train Iraqi and Yemeni heritage professionals in SmartWater application and the enhancement of digital records of artefacts encoded with the traceable solution.
  • Partners: University of Reading (UK); Iraq’s State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (Iraq); General Commission for Antiquities and Museums (Aden, Yemen); Slemani Museum (Iraq); SmartWater Foundation (UK).

A Collaborative Project to preserve Cultural Heritage, Kenya 

  • £206,992 to preserve and promote the paper-based collections housed at the McMillan Library in Nairobi. Interns will be trained in digitisation, metadata creation and archive management, and use these new skills to preserve endangered archives at risk of damage due to climate change.
  • Partners: Book Bunk Trust (Kenya); African Digital Heritage (Kenya); Amitations Studio (Kenya); Baraza Media Lab (Kenya).

Climate, Culture, Peace 

  • £116,615 for a five-day international virtual conference to gather evidence, discuss and share stories of best practice for safeguarding heritage threatened by climate change, conflict and natural disasters. The conference will bring together heritage custodians, researchers, decision makers and youth leaders from across the Middle East and North, East and West Africa.
  • Partners: International Centre for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM, Italy).

Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Palestinians living in the South Hebron Hills, Occupied Palestinian Territories 

  • £102,074 for the protection of the intangible cultural heritage of the Bedouin communities in the South Hebron Hills, at risk due to marginalisation. Young researchers from the communities will collate previously recorded oral histories and work with the Palestinian Museum to create a publicly accessible archive.
  • Partners: Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR, UK); The Palestinian Museum (Occupied Palestinian Territories); Dar Al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture (DAK, Occupied Palestinian Territories).

The Life Jacket: the Revitalisation & Development of Rural Jerusalem, Occupied Palestinian Territories  

  • £125,000 to restore a historic courtyard in Kafr’Aqab, safeguarding the space for future generations. The restored courtyard will provide an operational space for Visual Arts Forum, an organisation dedicated to community development in the arts sector, with a focus on children and young people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
  • Partners: RIWAQ – Centre for Architectural Conservation (Occupied Palestinian Territories); Municipality of Kafr ‘Aqab (Occupied Palestinian Territories); Visual Arts Forum (Occupied Palestinian Territories). 

Protection & Preservation of Tangible & Intangible Cultural Heritage, Occupied Palestinian Territories  

  • £229,400 to protect the tangible and intangible heritage of the Occupied Palestinian Territories through restoration, training and skills exchange. The project focusses on the 4th century St Hilarion monastery in Gaza, which has been at severe risk of destruction due to conflict in the region.
  • Partners: Première Urgence Internationale (PUI, France); University of Strasbourg (France); French Biblical School of Archaeology (Occupied Palestinian Territories); University of Palestine (Occupied Palestinian Territories); Islamic University of Gaza (Occupied Palestinian Territories); Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR, UK).

Melting Snow & Rivers in Flood, Uganda

  • £110,143 for the protection of important physical and intangible heritage within the Rwenzori Mountains in Western Uganda from the effects of climate change. Through international knowledge exchange sessions and construction of a retaining wall to mitigate flooding at the Wang-Lei site, the project will encourage sustainable tourism to the area.
  • Partners: International National Trusts Organisation (INTO, UK); Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU, Uganda); Zanzibar Stone Town Heritage Society (Tanzania). 

Safeguarding & Rescuing Archaeological Assets (SARAA), Lebanon

  • £110,360 to create a resource of training materials that will provide skills to heritage professionals in Lebanon to help safeguard archaeological assets in the country.
  • Partners: British Institute of Archaeology in Ankara (Turkey); Biladi (Lebanon). 

Strengthening Capacity Building of the Heritage Preservation & Interpretation Sector in al Raqqa, Syria 

  • £62,600 to train heritage professionals in Raqqa, Syria by providing them with the skills to better protect the archaeological environment in the city. Three historic buildings will be restored and a new NGO created to manage the future preservation, restoration, and interpretation of Raqqa’s built heritage.
  • Partners: Heritage for Peace (Spain); RehabiMed (Spain); Spanish National Research Council (Spain). 

EAMENA (Knowledge Transfer & National Heritage Databases for Middle Eastern Partners), Jordan, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon & Syria

  • £125,000 to create three national heritage databases for Jordan, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Lebanon. A separate Syria-only database will be created through independent monitoring of archaeological sites in the country. 
  • Partners: Oxford University (UK); University of Durham (UK); Department of Antiquities of Jordan, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (Occupied Palestinian Territories); General Directorate of Antiquities (Lebanon).

Cultural Corridors of Peace II, Lebanon

  • £144,476 to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of the Bedouin in Lebanon. A report into the threats and opportunities facing Bedouin will be produced and presentations of Bedouin traditions recorded. The project will culminate with two online exhibitions and screenings, while a newly created International Network of Bedouin Communities will enable continued interaction between Bedouin communities across the MENA region post-completion.
  • Partners: InHerit (US); American University of Beirut (AUB, Lebanon). 



Notes to Editor

Link to images: 

For media enquiries, please contact: Hayley Willis, Senior Media Relations Manager: +44 (0)7542 268184;

For more information on the Cultural Protection Fund:


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. In 2019-2020 we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 14.5 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

About the Cultural Protection Fund

The Cultural Protection Fund is managed by the British Council – the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations – in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It aims to foster, safeguard and promote cultural heritage overseas.

The Fund is a key part of the British Council’s work in Culture and Development overseas, which focuses on ambitious, artistic and creative initiatives that foster social cohesion, freedom of expression, inclusive institutions, dynamic communities, and improved social and economic well-being. 

For more information about the Cultural Protection Fund, a full list of those organisations awarded the Fund and details of their proposals, visit