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The Nahrein Network


Fostering the sustainable development of heritage in post-conflict iraq and its neighbours


Archive for March, 2024

The Nahrein Network’s recent trip to Iraq

By Zainab, on 20 March 2024

On our first port of call in Iraq was Kirkuk, where the Nahrein Network’s Professor Eleanor Robson and Dr Mehiyar Kathem had the opportunity to visit its provincial capital. The Nahrein Network met with Dr Mustafa Muhsin (Kirkuk University) and Dr Khalil al Jabouri (Tikrit University) to discuss their project on cultural heritage and minorities in the province. Dr Mustafa Muhsin and Dr Dlshad Oumar (also a historian at the University of Kirkuk and a previous Nahrein Network – British Institute for the Study of Iraq Visiting Scholar) arranged a superb seminar on the work of the Nahrein Network.  

Professor Eleanor Robson at University of Kirkuk speaking with colleagues in the History Department

We were warmly welcomed by the Dean of the College of Arts, Dr Omar al Deen, who also participated in the workshop at the university.  

The team also had the pleasure of meeting the president of the University of Kirkuk, Dr Omran Hussein, where Professor Eleanor Robson spoke about the rich history of Kirkuk and its significance to Iraq.  

In addition, the team led by Dr Mustafa Muhsin organised a meeting with Dr. Yousif Thomas Mirkis, Archbishop of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Kirkuk and Sulimaniyah, who welcomed the Nahrein Network supported project on Kirkuk’s minorities and proposed to host several of its workshops and other activities.  

London team visits the historic Kirkuk Citadel

A visit to Kirkuk citadel and the Shrine of Prophet Daniel was also a highlight of the trip to Kirkuk.  

Another major highlight of our trip, this time in Baghdad, was a joint workshop organised with five teams who are working on different cultural heritage related projects in Iraq. Discussions ensued, good lessons were exchanged and the project teams were able to network with each other. 

On this trip to Baghdad, Professor Eleanor Robson and Dr Mehiyar Kathem had the pleasure of meeting Dr Naeem Abed Yasir, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The Nahrein Network’s current activities and plans for future collaboration were discussed as well as how to strengthen UK – Iraq higher education knowledge-based partnerships and exchange. 

Prof Eleanor and Dr Mehiyar with the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research

The Nahrein Network team also met with Dr Bahaa Ansaf, President of the University of Baghdad, where ideas for research collaborations were discussed, including initiatives led by the university for the rehabilitation of their natural history museum as well as strengthening museum skills development.  

Professor Eleanor Robson and Dr Mehiyar Kathem with Professor Bahaa Ansaf, President of the University of Baghdad

The team then visited the archaeological site of Babylon, accompanied by Ammar al Taee (archaeologist at the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage) and Dr Haider al Mamori (archaeologist and academic at the University of Babylon). Dr Ali Naji from the University of Kufa also accompanied the Nahrein Network team on a tour of the ancient city.  

UNESCO listed World Heritage Site of Babylon

From Babil, the Nahrein Network team then visited historic Kufa, in the province of Najaf, where Dr Ali Naji is implementing a project exploring the historic buildings of the city.

After Najaf, the Nahrein Network visited the marshes in al Chibayish, in the province of DhiQar, accompanied by our colleague Dr Hamid Samir (Head of Architecture at the University of Basrah).  

Dr Hamid Samir of Basra University with Eleanor Robson in Chibayish

The Nahrein Network also had the pleasure of meeting with the President of the University of Basrah where Dr Hamid Samir’s project on climate change and its impact on heritage buildings in Basrah (in collaboration with Loughborough University in the United Kingdom) was discussed. Later, in the presence of Dr Hamid Samir,  a discussion took place with his undergraduate students at the university. 

This trip ended with a visit to Al Ashar canal and its rich cultural heritage, an area that was recently worked on for rehabilitation by UNECO and the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage.

Mustafa al Hussainy, Head of Basrah’s State Board of Antiquities and Heritage also accompanied the Nahrein Network team on a short walk to visit some of the 11 heritage buildings that had recently been worked on for rehabilitation.