Beirut, Bahrain's Muharraq and Sharjah are among 66 metropolitan areas designated a creative city by the United Nations' agency for culture, education and science.
Sharjah has become a creative city of crafts and folk, Beirut secured its status for literature and Muharraq, Bahrain, was designated a city of design by Unesco.
Asahikawa in Japan, Baku in Azerbaijan and Hanoi in Vietnam were among nine cities honoured for design creativity, with other cities picking up the title for services to gastronony, music and media arts.
Unesco Creative Cities are selected for their development of creativity, commitment to socio-political transformation, sustainability, climate change, education and employment.
HE Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, president of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, said: “Muharraq continues to strengthen its position as a global cultural center, after winning the Aga Khan Award for Architecture last September, today Muharraq joins the Unesco Creative Cities Network. With its architectural heritage and cultural history, this new title reflects Bahrain’s belief in cultural activities through which we promote our kingdom’s beauty.”
Creative cities also commit to put creativity and culture at the centre of development goals.
“All over the world, these cities, each in its way, make culture the pillar, not an accessory, of their strategy,” says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “This favours political and social innovation and is particularly important for the young generations.”
Cementing its creative credentials, the inaugural edition of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial will be held between November and February 2020. It is the first major platform for architecture and urbanisation in the Middle East and aims to broaden conversations around sustainable building design and the preservation of the UAE’s architectural heritage.
HH Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah has led the creative expansion of the emirate.
Muharraq is one of the largest cities in Bahrain and was the country’s capital from 1810 to 1923 at a time when pearling was at its most buoyant.
In 2018, Dubai became Unesco's first creative city of design in the Middle East.