| Azlan Othman |
THROUGHOUT 2019, Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) will witness various activities and events planned and organised to celebrate its selection as Capital of Islamic Culture in the Asian region by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO).
The activities are to be grouped roughly into the following categories: Main Activities, Academic Activities, Religious Activities, Islamic Culture and Arts, Sports and Recreation, and Competitions and Expo.
The three main activities organised for the celebrations are Exhibition on Bandar Seri Begawan Architectural and Monuments Trail; 2nd International Islamic Expo; and Photography and Painting Exhibition on Al-Quds Al-Sharif, the ISESCO said.
Three cities in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are chosen every year as capitals of Islamic culture by the ISESCO for enriching the culture of their regions.
This year, Jerusalem, BSB, and Guinea-Bissau’s capital Bissau have been recognised for their historical significance in the areas of culture, art, social sciences and architecture. As an exception for 2019, Tunis was included as a fourth capital since it hosted an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference in December.
As this year’s Asian capital of Islamic culture, Brunei is considered the longest-standing Malay state since its embrace of Islam more than six centuries ago. The small nation has played a central role in reinforcing the Islamic faith in the region.
The ISESCO proclaimed 2019 as the year of heritage in the Islamic world, in tune with the resolution of the 10th Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers.
In a statement released on the occasion, ISESCO invited member states to take the necessary measures to celebrate this great event and underscored the importance of civilisational and cultural heritage, in all its tangible and intangible manifestations in preserving the collective memory and safeguarding the identity of peoples and nations.
It also highlighted the urgent need for the protection, preservation and ensuring the sustainability of the heritage within a comprehensive and integrated vision and on the basis of a participatory and collective will.
In its statement, ISESCO recalled the long history of the Islamic world and the distinction of its diverse and rich civilisational and cultural heritage that flows from its openness and mutual influence with the multiple-source human cultures; the creative contributions of intellectuals, scientists, writers, poets, artists, architects and craftsmen, and far-reaching influence of heritage schools and scientific and cultural institutions.
It stressed that the civilisational and cultural heritage in the Islamic world, both tangible and intangible, is a key symbol of the Islamic civilisational identity and an open space to showcase its cultural diversity and an inexhaustible source of inspiration for creativity and innovation.
ISESCO’s charter, which comprises 54 member states along with three observer states, stipulates that every OIC member state is officially a member of ISESCO upon signing the charter. The Capitals of Islamic Culture programme was born through an OIC resolution in 2002.
To be selected, cities must have shown outstanding contribution to both Islamic and universal culture, confirmed through the scientific, cultural, literary and artistic works of scholars. ISESCO inaugurated the programme in 2005, with Makkah named as the first capital.