Themed side event 'Digital Empowerment of Cultural Heritage' held in Saudi Arabia

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During the extended 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the State Administration of Culture Heritage of China, and the People's Government of Beijing Municipality co-hosted a themed side event on "Digital Empowerment of Cultural Heritage" on Sept. 17. 

Lazare Eloundou Assomo, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Li Qun, vice minister of culture and tourism of the People's Republic of China and administrator of the State Administration of Culture Heritage, and Tan Xuxiang, vice mayor of Beijing, attended the event and delivered speeches. 

The side event on "Digital Empowerment of Cultural Heritage" is held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sept. 17, 2023. [Photo provided to]

China's innovative practices in "Digital Empowerment of Cultural Heritage" was highly recognized by the participants and international organizations. According to Assomo, from virtual tours to making heritage lists and 3D modelling of archaeological sites, heritage digitization is thriving. "China's heritage managements share their good practices through regular reports, such as virtual restoration through 3D digital scanning, real-time monitoring of visitor volumes, etc., which are crucial for heritage conservation and management," he said. He believes that China has considerable experience and expertise in the field of heritage protection and could share good practices in the use of digital technology to protect heritage with other countries. 

By establishing a large national database of cultural relics resources, China has carried out plenty of work in the digitization of cultural relics protection, work management, public services, and exhibitions. A series of digitization projects such as the Digital Forbidden City, the Digital Dunhuang, the Digital Great Wall, and the Digital Beijing Central Axis have provided useful references for other countries to use digital technology to enhance the protection and management of world cultural heritage. 

Tan Xuxiang, vice mayor of Beijing, talks with Lazare Eloundou Assomo, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre during the side event on "Digital Empowerment of Cultural Heritage" in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sept. 17, 2023. [Photo provided to]

As one of the organizers of this event, Beijing, the capital of China, has a history of more than 3,000 years as a city, and more than 800 years as the capital. While fully implementing the overall protection of the old city areas, many attempts have been made in digitally empowering cultural heritage. Through the "Digital Time-Teller at Night" project, Beijing encourages the public to take photos to participate in cultural heritage monitoring. By cooperating with Internet company Tencent, it has established the "Tanyuan Platform," and successively launched the Beijing Central Axis, the Capital Museum, the Sanxingdui Museum, and inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells of the Shang Dynasty (1600BC-1046BC). The platform now hosts more than 1,000 digital resources of cultural heritage from over 50 cultural heritage units. 

The Beijing Cultural Heritage Photography Exhibition, the International Youth Painting Exhibition and the Digital Beijing Cultural Experience Activities were also held at the side event, attracting guests from all over the world to visit and interact with each other. 

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