Soqotra Heritage Project: building local capacities for the protection of the unique cultural and natural heritage of Socotra

Soqotra Heritage Project
Publicado: 21 Enero 2021
Última edición: 22 Febrero 2021
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This solution focuses on the Soqotra Heritage Project, a multidisciplinary programme addressing the needs of tangible and intangible cultural heritage on Soqotra, one of the most unique island ecosystems in the world and its unique biodiversity is at the heart of its World Heritage status. Through the establishment of a partnership of local and international institutions and organizations, the project combines multidisciplinary expertise in the documentation and conservation of Soqotra’s heritage which is a key element of identity for Soqotri communities. The project enhances previous projects and programmes which focused on biodiversity conservation, and works on raising awareness and building local capacity for the conservation of tangible and intangible heritage as an element for future sustainable local development.

The project focuses on strengthening community-based approaches to heritage conservation, as well as safeguarding the unique bio-cultural heritage of Soqotra.


Oeste de Asia, Medio Oriente
Escala de aplicación
Ecosistemas de agua dulce
Ecosistemas de pastizales
Piscina, lago, estanque
Pradera tropical, sabana, matorral
Río, corriente
Actores locales
Comunicación y divulgación
Conocimientos tradicionales
Financiación sostenible
Gobernanza de áreas protegidas
Poblaciones indígenas
World Heritage
Gender mainstreaming
sustainable tourism
Degradación de tierras y bosques
Ciclones tropicales / tifones
Usos conflictivos / impactos acumulativos
Cosecha insostenible, incluida la sobrepesca
Desarrollo de Infraestructura
Falta de acceso a financiación a largo plazo
Falta de oportunidades de ingresos alternativos
Cambios en el contexto socio-cultural
Falta de capacidad técnica
Falta de conciencia del público y de los responsables de la toma de decisiones
Deficiente vigilancia y aplicación de la ley
Falta de infraestructura
Deficiente gobernanza y participación
Conflicto social y disturbios civiles
Falta de seguridad alimentaria
Desempleo / pobreza
Objectivos de Desarrollo Sostenible
ODS 1 - Fin de la pobreza
ODS 10- Reducción de las desigualidades
ODS 12 - Producción y consumo responsables
Metas de Aichi
Meta 1: Aumento de la sensibilization sobre la biodiversidad
Meta 11: Las áreas protegidas
Meta 18: Conocimiento tradicional
Meta 19: Intercambio de información y conocimiento


Daira, Hadhramaut, Yemen | The solution is implemented in the Socotra/Soqotra Archipelago located between the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea, is the largest of the four islands in Socotra Archipelago.


  • Environmental challenges: change in focus from purely biodiversity conservation to a wider heritage model encompassing links between tangible, intangible and natural heritage and associated knowledge systems;
  • Cultural and social challenges: Soqotri heritage is at risk from external influences; lack of local capacity, governance and awareness of Soqotri heritage; lack of heritage resources available for decision making;
  • Economic challenges: lack of local sustainable development opportunities addressed through further highlighting and discussion on sustainable heritage tourism.


The beneficiaries are local communities living on the island - which are also key actors in the implementation of this project - and the scientific community which is benefitting from the archaeological documentation carried out by local communities.

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

The solution focuses on Soqotra Heritage Project, a multidisciplinary partner project involving local, national and international institutions and organizations from the fields of nature conservation and heritage safeguarding. The project focused on switching perspectives in the conservation of the heritage of Soqotra: from biodiversity conservation to a wider interlinked approach addressing both natural and cultural heritage as one interlinked element that is widely interconnected within the life and culture of people that are indigenous to the island and are a key component of the bio-cultural landscape of the Soqotra Archipelago.

The project bases its core activities in the development and enhancement of local capacities as well as in the improvement of information accessibility about the heritage of Soqotra to allow for informed decision-making, also in light of planning for inclusive sustainable tourism activities to be implemented on the island.

The key element for the implementation of this solution is the close cooperation with local communities and the continuous communication and implementation through consultation between all project partners, with the Soqotri community at the forefront of decision making.

Impactos positivos

The Soqotra Heritage Project focuses on increasing the knowledge and raising awareness about cultural heritage of the Soqotra Archipelago.

  • Environmental and cultural impacts: the Soqotra Heritage project tackled both natural and cultural heritage under the same framework, moving the first steps towards the recognition of Soqotra’s cultural heritage and its inclusion in protected areas planning. Additionally, the Soqotra Heritage Database was established through the ARCHES Project.
  • Economic impacts: the project brought heritage tourism into open discussion with local communities and stakeholders; this also encouraged and advertised conservation through diversification.
  • Social and cultural impacts: through the project, local heritage professionals have been trained and local capacities have been developed. At the site level a series of heritage awareness media have been implemented including site interpretation, heritage festivals, heritage “comic strips”, school and stakeholder site visits, online media. The project fostered the use of collaborative theatre and film workshops re-connecting generations with their own heritage.


Oliver Wilkins | Sotories of Change

During the Soqotra Heritage Project, two Yemeni women – Ms. Sheikha Mubarak and Ms. Ahdab Al-Ameri– were trained on video documentation and interview research techniques. They were determined to document the intangible heritage of Soqotra and over the course of six months they collected over 50 hours of footage that were then edited in cooperation with filmmaker Oliver Wilkins in a small film documenting traditional Socotri songs, poetry, stories and traditional crafts.

The film was presented at the Friends of Socotra annual conference where it was seen by a large audience of academics, anthropologists, development professionals and Soqotri people. They captured on film, many unique Soqotri traditions that had been hidden from foreign researchers.
This film and project demonstrate clearly show how important video is in documenting and sharing intangible heritage and the necessity to place local people at the heart of any cultural research.


Watch Sheikha and Ahdab’s film at

Contribuido por

Dr Alan Forrest Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Contribuído por

Julian Jansen van Rensburg
Freie Universität Berlin
Ismael Salem
ARC-WH Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage
ARC-WH Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage