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Saudi Arabia committing $20 mln to protect heritage sites in war zones

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia is committing at least $20 as part of a worldwide campaign to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the wave of ideological-driven destruction carried out by ISIS militants.

French President Francois Hollande, speaking at a donors’ conference in the Louvre Museum in Paris, said the goal for the heritage fund is $100 million and urged other countries around the world to contribute.

France is pledging $30 million for the fund while the United Arab Emirates has promised $15 million, according to the French Culture Ministry. Kuwait has pledged $5 million, Luxembourg $3 million, Morocco $1.5 million and philanthropist Thomas Kaplan pledged $1 million.

Switzerland pledged further money in administrative and legal support and will host the fund in Geneva. Italy said it would provide military personnel and conservation experts.

French President Francois Hollande and United Arab Emirates Minister of Interior Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan attend the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris. (Reuters)
French President Francois Hollande and United Arab Emirates Minister of Interior Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan attend the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris. (Reuters)

The conference aimed to build an international fund to prevent or stop the destruction of historical sites. Organizers also want to create a network of sites around the world to temporarily store endangered artifacts and to pay for the restoration of sites damaged by war.

ISIS militants have stolen or destroyed a host of cultural artifacts, including the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, the Mosul museum in Iraq and the 13th century B.C. Assyrian capital of Nimrud, which is also in Iraq.