The United States and Bahrain: Strengthening Bilateral Ties to Fight Against the Illicit Trade in Cultural Property
Join Us Live for a Stimulating Discussion with Leaders in Culture and Government
On October 28, join the Antiquities Coalition, in collaboration with the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities and the U.S. Department of State, for a live webinar on the critical role of culture in global security, national economies, and foreign diplomacy. Internationally recognized leaders in government and the arts, from both the United States and Bahrain, will discuss challenges to combating cultural property crimes, as well as shared principles that support responsible cultural exchange.
This webinar will take place on Zoom with simultaneous interpretation into English and Arabic. Distinguished speakers include:
- HE Shaikha Mai AlKhalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), Kingdom of Bahrain
- Dr. Mounir Bouchenaki, Special Advisor to the Director-General of ICCROM and Special Advisor to the Director-General of UNESCO
- Dr. Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, Smithsonian Institution
- Matthew Lussenhop, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of Educational And Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Register Here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_oKXAFLm0TFu1D9XgrCIT-A
More About the Discussion
Both the U.S. and Bahraini governments have warned that the illicit trade in art and artifacts is a threat to international peace and security due to its financing of organized crime, armed conflict, and violent extremism. The Middle East and North Africa, with its rich and diverse history, has much to lose from this cultural racketeering. Daesh has made frontpage headlines for its pillage of the Cradle of Civilization, but experts continue to warn that antiquities looting and trafficking is funding Daesh in Libya, Al Qaeda and the Houthi militias in Yemen, and, farther afield, the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, this terrorist financing often goes hand-in-hand with money laundering and other financial crimes, to which the art market is also particularly vulnerable, as well as targeted cultural destruction.
The United States is in a unique position to make a difference, as it remains the world’s largest art market, making up 42% of the global total. However, with the creation of new and prominent museums, a booming art market, and a strong push for cultural tourism, the Gulf States are quickly becoming key players. In particular, with strong ministerial leadership from the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, Bahrain has achieved significant strides in heritage conservation and serves as the headquarters for the Arab regional Centre for World Heritage which provides support to 19 Arab countries towards the promotion and management of cultural and natural sites. With its close global ties and effective regional diplomacy, the Kingdom is well positioned to become a leader in the global fight against the illicit trafficking of art and artifacts.
More About Our Esteemed Panelists
HE Shaikha Mai AlKhalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), Kingdom of Bahrain
A leading figure in the Arab World for her work in the field of culture, HE Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa has spearheaded national efforts to develop the cultural infrastructure in the Kingdom of Bahrain for heritage conservation and the growth of sustainable tourism. The President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, HE Shaikha Mai is the foremost public expert in the field, holding the unique portfolios of the Ministry for Culture & Information and then the Ministry for Culture. As the founder of the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research and Chair of its Board of Trustees since 2002, she works actively to foster culture and preserve the traditional architecture of Bahrain. It was to this end that she launched the nation-wide ‘Investing in Culture’ initiative, building an unprecedented partnership between the private and public sectors for heritage preservation. Her vision and leadership have resulted in a worldwide recognition of the Kingdom’s historic and cultural significance and the listing of three Bahrain sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
HE Shaikha Mai holds an MA in Political History and is the author of seven books. She is recipient of many distinguished awards including; ‘Légion d’Honneur’ (2008) and ‘Knight of Légion d’Honneur’ from the French Government (2011), ‘Noble Honour’ for being a distinguished international personality in the field of Ideology and Culture by a royal decree from His Majesty Muhammad Al-Sadis, King of Morocco (2010), ‘Colbert Prize for Creativity and Heritage’ (2010), and ‘Watch Award’ by the World Monuments Fund (2015). She has also been nominated ‘Special Ambassador of the International Year of Sustainability for Development 2017’ (2017-2019) by the World Tourism Organization and ‘Arab Heritage Personality of 2019’ by the Arab Tourism Media Centre in 2019. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the World Monument Fund.
Dr. Mounir Bouchenaki, Special Advisor to the Director-General of ICCROM and Special Advisor to the Director-General of UNESCO
Dr. Mounir Bouchenaki has had a 25-year career in UNESCO as Assistant Director-General for Culture; Director of the Division of Cultural Heritage; and Director of the World Heritage Centre. He was Director-General of ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) from 2005 until 2011. He is also a past-Director of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage. Currently, Mounir Bouchenaki is acting as Special Advisor to the Director-General of ICCROM and Special Advisor to the Director-General of UNESCO. He contributed between 2013 and 2017 to the launching of a UNESCO category II Centre, ‘The Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage based in Bahrain’.
Matthew Lussenhop, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of Educational And Cultural Affairs
Matthew Lussenhop joined the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) in July 2019. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, and has served his country as a Foreign Service Officer since 1990. Prior to his arrival at ECA, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the Embassy of the United States to the Kingdom of Belgium, August 2016-June 2019, including 18 months as Chargé d’affaires. From 2013-2016, he was the DCM at the U.S. Embassy to the Kingdom of Morocco, including ten months as the Chargé d’affaires. Mr. Lussenhop previously served in ECA as a Senior Advisor for Policy from 2011-2013.
Mr. Lussenhop has served in the field of public diplomacy and strategic communications in numerous posts overseas, including Public Affairs Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2010-2011. Other overseas assignments include positions at U.S. embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait; Muscat, Oman; Rabat, Morocco; Sofia, Bulgaria; and Manila, Philippines. In Washington, DC, Mr. Lussenhop has served in the State Department’s Bureau of Near East and North African Affairs, and as Director of Public Diplomacy Training at the Foreign Service Institute.Mr. Lussenhop is the recipient of multiple State Department Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards. He speaks Arabic and French, and is a native of Minnesota and a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.
Moderated by Dr. Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, Smithsonian Institution
Dr. Richard Kurin is the Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, the first person so designated in the 171-year history of the Institution. Prior to his current role, Kurin served as Acting Provost and Under Secretary for Museums and Research from 2015, and from 2007, as Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture. Kurin served on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and helped draft an international treaty, now ratified by 170 nations, to safeguard living cultural heritage. He led efforts to save heritage in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and has overseen projects for saving heritage endangered by natural disaster in Nepal and the U.S., and by human conflict in Mali, Egypt, Iraq and Syria. Kurin serves as Smithsonian liaison to the U.S. President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities and the White House Historical Association, and is a member of the U.S. Department of State Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee.