Prince Charles visits Omani village at centre of heritage research

The University of Liverpool’s Sir James Stirling Chair in Architecture, Professor Soumyen Bandyopadhyay accompanied Prince Charles on a visit to an Omani village at the centre of heritage development research.

As part of a tour of the Middle East, the Prince was escorted round Misfat Al-‘Abriyin, a traditional mountain village in Oman, by Dr Haitham Al Abri and Prof Bandyopadhyay, Director of the University’s Architecture and Cultural Heritage of India, Arabia and the Maghreb (ArCHIAM) research centre.

ArCHIAM, based in the School of Architecture, has carried out a detailed study and documentation of Misfat for Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, working closely with the local community, and has proposed a masterplan for heritage management and sustainable tourism development.

Prof Bandyopadhyay said: “Prince Charles has a longstanding interest in traditional building and the preservation of heritage skills.

“In his hour-long walk through the village, His Royal Highness was told about the close relationship developed over centuries between the distinctive natural landscape and the man-made environment.

“The traditional irrigation system and associated land organisation are particularly noteworthy in Misfat Al-‘Abriyin, as is the ancient origin of the settlement demonstrated by the ruins of a Sassanid watchtower that overlooks the village.

“Prince Charles was also shown the wide-ranging alternative energy generation and community capacity building approaches being proposed and the measures to utilise agricultural waste.

“His Royal Highness’ awareness of historic settlements in the Gulf was impressive, as was his passionate knowledge of sustainable methods and traditional environments.”

ArCHIAM aims to provide an interdisciplinary research platform for historical and contemporary cultural developments across three interconnected global regions.

It is focused on the study of vernacular built environments in these regions and stresses their continued relevance in the contemporary world of rapid globalisation.

ArCHIAM has been researching vernacular environments in Oman since the 1990s and has worked closely with the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Ministry of Tourism to develop strategies for the sustainable transformation of several ancient settlements across Oman.

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