Google Arts & Culture announced today the launch of a digital exhibit by the Barakat Trust about the Gaza strip in Palestine. The project, which is Barakat Trust’s inaugural collection on Google Arts & Culture will help more people around the world learn about Palestinian culture and heritage .
To produce the digital exhibit, the Barakat Trust, a charity organization that focuses on the Islamic world’s education and heritage, worked with professionals and experts in Gaza to document a range of the city’s architectural and cultural facets through firsthand accounts from the city’s residents available in Arabic and English.
People can hear from Gazan engineers, academics and journalists about their experience growing up in the city, their history and shared memories of living through war. It also features a series of videos and stories about preservation efforts in the Gaza strip and the difficulties facing local preservation experts who are working to restore and maintain local heritage sites.
“We all need to support Gaza in a different way[s]. Not only [with] food and medicine, but also to safeguard its identity and cultural heritage. This project funded by the Barakat Trust is very important to us – to help make our voices reach outside of Gaza” said Muneer Elbaz, a participant in Barkat’s Trust’s project, Architect, Urban Planner and Lecturer at UCAS.
One of the main heritage sites in Gaza is Palestine’s oldest mosque – the Omari mosque. Established in 1277 AD, the mosque has a history similar to that of Turkey’s Aya Sofia, where it was used for different religious purposes over the years – from temple, to church, to mosque, to church then to mosque again. The collection also delves into local conservation efforts in the city, including efforts to digitally preserve religious manuscripts found in the Omari mosque and historical buildings.
Seif El Rashidi, Director of Barakat Trust said “The Barakat Trust is very happy to showcase the stories of heritage and community in Gaza on the Google Arts & Culture platform. We have supported conservation and heritage education efforts in this historic city for several years and are delighted by the change these projects are bringing to the city. This collection of stories highlights both the history of Gaza and the dynamic people involved in preserving its diverse heritage. We see the platform [Google Arts & Culture] as a great way to enable the discovery of overlooked places, and to spark interest.”
People can also discover Gaza’s history as a port city and the role played by Souk Al Qissaariya as a hub for trade between east and west with products such as frankincense, myrrh, spices, precious stones and textiles all making their way through the city.
Commenting on the importance of the collection, Chance Coughenour, Head of Preservation at Google Arts & Culture said “These stories illustrate the diversity of challenges local experts are facing to safeguard cultural heritage, ranging from the Great Omari Mosque Manuscripts to the Souk al-Qissariya , and how The Barakat Trust is supporting them. We’re proud that by offering a digital platform, Google Arts & Culture can help more people around the world to learn about the life and efforts of Gazans.”
Google Arts & Culture helps put the treasures, stories and knowledge of over 2,900 cultural institutions from 80 countries into the hands of people around the world. Google Arts & Culture works as an innovation partner for cultural institutions by working on technologies that help preserve and share culture in new ways.
The launch of the Barakat Trust’s digital exhibit is Google Arts & Culture’s most recent effort to help showcase and support the preservation of contemporary culture and ancient heritage of the Middle East. Previous digital exhibitions include the Dalloul Art Foundation in Lebanon, the National Library & Archives and Dubai Culture & Arts Authority in the United Arab Emirates, the Art & Soul of Mosul, Iraq, and Preserving Egypt’s Layered History in Egypt. The Gaza stories are available on the Google Arts & Culture website and its app (Android and iOS).