Our Mission
Syrians for Heritage (SIMAT) is a cultural association that strives to preserve the Syrian heritage for all Syrians and for the world. Through our tangible and intangible heritage, we can comprehend our past and anticipate our future. This understanding will help us rediscover our plurality, restore our sense of belonging to our land and country, and achieve our hoped-for, peaceful future.

SIMAT is an inclusive association. It insists on broadening the discourse on Syrian heritage to encompass diverse perspectives, including those that have historically been excluded for a variety of reasons. SIMAT engages civil society in Syria and the Syrian diaspora and collaborates with concerned international organizations in the service of heritage education, exhibition, and conservation. SIMAT aims to challenge intended and unintended infringements on and appropriation of Syrian art, culture, and architecture, and promotes the study and appreciation of Syrian heritage locally and internationally for all.

Our Approach

  1. SIMAT considers the heritage in its totality, from the archeological remains of the first settlements in Syria to the present cultural and artistic production.
  2. SIMAT consists of a number of Syrian experts in the various fields of heritage study, preservation, and production, covering a wide array of knowledge and representing the mosaic of the Syrian people.
  3. SIMAT values its independence from all political parties, Syrian or non-Syrian, while maintaining a fundamental affinity to Syria, its land, history, cultures, and peoples.
  4. SIMAT strives to be a bridge between the various international and national organizations interested in the conservation of the Syrian heritage and the people of Syria. It actually hopes to be a voice of Syria, unhindered by any affiliation to any of the warring parties active in the country or any foreign organization.

What we do
SIMAT is a non-profit association for the study and preservation of the Syrian heritage, founded in January 2018 in Berlin, Germany. It is run by experts in the field of archeology, conservation and heritage preservation. SIMAT develops and implements programming in Germany, inside Syria, and in neighboring courtiers where a large number of Syrian refugees and expats live. SIMAT collaborates with local and international NGOs delivering aid to civil society groups working to assist in security and community well-being in the service of heritage conservation.

SIMAT:

  • Supports training, research and documentation activities concerning cultural heritage.
  • Coordinates in-country emergency conservation actions.
  • Promotes public awareness and educational programs about the history and cultures of Syria.
  • Works with local communities inside Syria and Syrian communities in the diaspora on heritage preservation initiatives.
  • Organizes academic workshops, exhibitions, and publications.
Our Goals
  1. Re-conceptualize notions of cultural heritage, using Syria as example, to be more inclusive of all cultures sharing a land and a history.
  2. Prioritize Syrian voices, efforts and actions in the protection and preservation of the Syrian heritage.
  3. Capitalizes on the accumulated knowledge and experience and empowers Syrians to lead in preserving their heritage.
  4. SIMAT enjoys a wide network of contact inside and outside Syria and is set to organize and empower the Syrian cultural workers dispersed around the world to reclaim control over their heritage and to develop sensible ways to deal with its urgent and long-term conservation and study. A wide variety of Syrian men and women active in art, music, literature, and academia are solicited by SIMAT to participate in the preservation of the Syrian cultural heritage.
  5. SIMAT’s efforts are not limited to tangible heritage but also aims at the preservation of intangible heritage that shapes Syrian identity and highlights its contribution to international cultural heritage.

 Who we are

Board

Salam Al Kuntar (Chair)

Mariam Bachich

Bassel Al Hariri

Academic Advisor

Nasser Rabbat

 

Artistic Advisor

Issam Kourbaj

 

 

SIMAT Founding Members

Hiba Al Bassir

Bassel Al Hariri

Salam Al Kuntar

Shaker Al Shbib

Mariam Bachiich

Issam Kourbaj

Rim Lababidi

Nasser Rabbat

 

SIMAT Staff

Director of Programs: Shaker Al Shbib

General Administrator: Claudia Beurger

Project Coordinator: Hiba Al Bassir

Research Associate: Raphaela Heitman

 

Our Partners

Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI)
Penn Cultural Heritage Center
Idlib Antiquities Center

 

Major Funders

The Gerda Henkel Foundation

Bank of America

Smithsonian Federal Fund

Kaplan Fund

 

Salam Al Kuntar

Salam Al Kuntar

Board (Chair) & SIMAT Founding Member.

Is an Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Assistant Director of Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies Program (CHAPS) at Rutgers University. Worked at the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) in Syria in a number of capacities from 1996-2012. She has extensive museum and archaeological fieldwork experience. Since 2012, Salam has been active in the field of cultural heritage preservation. She has published scholarly articles and chapter contributions on early urbanism and economic growth in Mesopotamia, as well as analyses of current struggles in cultural heritage.

Claudia Beuger

Claudia Beuger

General Administrator

Is a Near Eastern archaeologist who participated since the early 1990’s in several archaeological research projects in Germany, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Armenia and Syria. She was scientific employee at the Orient Department of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. Currently, she is a researcher at the Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg and is heading an archaeological project in the Northwestern Zagros mountains (Iraqi Kurdistan). In May 2018 she joined the SIMAT team as a General Administrator.
Rim Lababidi

Rim Lababidi

SIMAT Founding Member

Is an architect and a researcher who investigates the preservation and safeguarding of built heritage in times of peace and crises, with a special emphasis on first aid practices. Rim has been mapping and analyzing the damage to the Syrian heritage, specifically the old city of Aleppo. Her research interests include broader issues of practices of preservation and valuation of material culture, as applied in the Islamic world, and the compatibility of Western practices with Islamic and local values.
Raphaela Heitmann

Raphaela Heitmann

Research Associate

Is a Near Eastern archaeologist who since 1990 worked on several archaeological excavations in Germany, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. She was active in museum educational service for children and adults. More recently, she was a scientific employee at the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin (SMBPK) in the Tell Halaf excavation project. Since May 2018 she is part of the SIMAT team in Berlin.
 Prof Nasser Rabbat

Prof Nasser Rabbat

SIMAT Founding Member & Academic Advisor.

Is the Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research interests are the history and historiography of Islamic architecture, medieval urbanism, modern Arab history, contemporary Arab art, and post-colonial criticism.  He has published several books, most recently a volume on the Dead Cities in Syria (2018) and is working on a book of the Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi. He regularly contributes to al-Hayat newspaper.

Issam Kourbaj

Issam Kourbaj

SIMAT Founding Member & Artistic Advisor.

Is a Lector in Art and an Artist in Residence at Christ’s College of the University of Cambridge. He was a Bye-Fellow from 2007-2011. He comes from a background of fine art, architecture and theatre design. He was born in Syria and trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in Damascus, the Repin Institute of Fine Arts & Architecture in Leningrad (St Petersburg) and at Wimbledon School of Art (London).  He collaborates with different kinds of creative science and humanities disciples. His work has been widely exhibited and collected by museums around the world. Since the start of the Syrian Uprising, his work has related to the Syrian Crisis and reflects on the destruction of his cultural heritage.

Mariam Bachich

Mariam Bachich

Board & SIMAT Founding Member.

a civil engineer with an additional master’s degree in World Heritage Studies (Cottbus University), worked in Directorate-General of Antiquities & Museums, DGAM Syria until 2012. She worked in the Syrian Heritage Archive project in the Museum of Islamic Art. Currently she researches the Syrian collection in the Ethnological Museum (SMB), and she is a member of “Multaqa” project – Museum of Islamic Art (SMB). Also runs projects in Syria working with the locals- mainly women and children. One of the projects is to promote traditional handicrafts in Syria with special involvement of women.

Shaker Al Shbib

Shaker Al Shbib

SIMAT Founding Member & Director of Programs.

Is a Doctor in archeology from the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and Associate Research ArScAn (Archaeology and Sciences of Antiquity) Paris – Nanterre, France. He has worked until 2011 for the DGAM, and served from 2005-2011 as the Director of Excavations and Archaeological Research in the Idlib Region. He has co-directed  many national and international missions in Syria. He has been working with the SHOSI Project since Januray 2014 on applying emergency conservation measures at key Syrian heritage sites at risk.

Hiba Albassir

Hiba Albassir

Project Coordinator

Is an experienced Syrian conservator. She has studied at the  Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum. She has worked as a principal conservator with many archaeological missions in Syria between 1991 and 2010. Hiba also worked at the laboratories of the Damascus National Museum from 2000-2002 where she trained junior conservators. In 2006 she founded the National Riding Club in the Sehnaya suburb of Damascus. Since 2011 she got involved with the Humanitarian Aid for Syria (SyrienHilfe e.V.). In May 2018 she joined the SIMAT team as a Project Coordinator. 
Bassel M. Hahriri

Bassel M. Hahriri

Board & SIMAT Founding Member

Is holding B.A. from Aleppo University, Faculty of Law (2008). He worked as conflict management and development specialist in Syria and Jordan and for Chemonics International/USAID (2014-2018). Additionally he graduated with honors in 2000 at the Arab institute of Music, and in 2005 received Diploma in performing arts for Solo violin. He is member of Aleppo chamber orchestra and Aleppo Arab music orchestra, of the Syndicate of Artists in Syria and Bar association in Syria. Currently he is Master Degree student at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London (UK).

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