The Lebanese capital Beirut will join the Organization’s Network of Creative Cities along with 6 new Arab countries including Iraq’s Sleimaniyah, Ramallah in Palestine, Essaouira in Morocco, Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain’s Muharraq.
The Network, which now has a total of 246 members, brings together cities that base their development on creativity, whether in music, arts, folk crafts, design, cinema, literature, digital arts, or gastronomy.
In this regard, the Lebanese Ambassador to UNESCO, Sahar Baassiri, explained: “This announcement is a recognition by UNESCO of the special creative and cultural status of Beirut, especially in the literary field.”
She added, “This city has played for decades a leading role in publishing, translation, and book fairs organization; it has hosted distinguished universities and cultural clubs; and it has embraced writers and poets from across the Arab world, who were attracted by its open intellectual environment and its free media.”
Beirut, which was chosen by UNESCO as the World Book Capital in 2009, became the second Arab-speaking city after Baghdad to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) and associate with other cities, including Milan (Italy), Quebec (Canada). and others.
The title of “Creative City” puts now Beirut on the map of creative cities in literature as in other fields, thus contributing to stimulate literary production and openness to the etiquette of other creative cities through international projects.
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) is a project launched in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities that recognize creativity as a major factor in their urban development. UNESCO creative cities commit to placing culture at the center of their development strategies and to share their best practices.