Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA, www.ircica.org), the cultural subsidiary of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC, www.oic-oci.org), maintains a database relating to the Islamic sites and monuments that constitute the architectural heritage of the OIC Member States. Establishment of the database was made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of H.R.H. Prince Sultan Ibn Salman Ibn Abdulaziz, Chairman of the Saudi Space Commission and Founder-President, Heritage Foundation (Al-Turath), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Operational since 2007 and on the web since June 2008, the database has been revised and redesigned in 2019. Its contents are regularly updated and enlarged in the context of IRCICA’s related research project.
OIC-IRCICA Prince Sultan Ibn Salman Islamic Architectural Heritage Database is a focal point for information on the architectural heritage of the Muslim world. Over its vast geography covering an area of about thirty million sq. kms. from Indonesia in the east to Guyana in the west accounting to about one sixth of the world land area, this world includes some of the most prolific cultural regions of history in terms of scientific, architectural, artistic and other activities. Foundation and growth of cities and their roles as foyers of civilization has a remarkable history in the Muslim world, which houses the historical cores of the major religions, the capitals of the greatest civilizations and the crossroad points of inter-continental trade routes. In consequence, the OIC Member States and surrounding countries within their historical geography, are home to large numbers of significant sites and monuments dating from different eras of the 14 centuries of Islamic history. This architectural heritage is of multi-faith and multi-cultural interest to all peoples of the world. The database covers all architectural heritage sites and properties belonging to Islamic historical and / or present cultural contexts regardless of their status of inscription in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. It is the first of this scope and content to be set up in the Muslim world.
The idea leading to the establishment of the database was first formulated in 2002 by H.R.H. Prince Sultan Ibn Salman Ibn Abdulaziz, as the Secretary General of the Supreme Commission for Tourism in Saudi Arabia, during the Third Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia). The conference adopted the idea and recommended the use of the Geographic Information System in documenting and classifying archeological and historical sites and architectural heritage sites in all Islamic countries. In implementation of the related resolutions of the conference, H.R.H. Prince Sultan Ibn Salman requested, through the General Secretariat of OIC, that IRCICA prepares studies and guidelines and supervises the implementation of the resolutions. Following accomplishment of the necessary preparations, the Fourth Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers held in 2005 (Dakar, Senegal) approved and expressed thanks to IRCICA for the initial conception of the project; the conference praised the personal generous initiative of HRH Prince Sultan Bin Salman Ibn Abdulaziz in providing sponsorship for its realization. The Sixth Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers held in 2008 (Damascus, Syria) took note of the efforts made by the IRCICA towards establishing the Prince Sultan Ibn Salman Islamic Architectural Heritage Database on Islamic monuments and sites which was launched under the generous initiative of H.R.H. Prince Sultan Ibn Salman, aiming to register and elaborate Islamic architectural heritage around the world, and by that way, to contribute to their preservation, promotion worldwide and economic development of the areas of the properties. The conference called on Member States to contribute all relevant data to IRCICA to feed the database project. Subsequent sessions of the Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers renewed this request.
Accordingly, in the following years IRCICA has circulated letters to the OIC Member States and Observer States inviting them to send information about their sites and monuments to be inscribed in the OIC-IRCICA Prince Sultan Ibn Salman Islamic Architectural Heritage Database. IRCICA is thankful to the countries which responded by sending information on their architectural heritage properties. The Centre hereby records a standing invitation to those countries which have not done so to register their architectural sites and monuments in this database.
The new website of the database that was designed in 2019 is replenished with data, high resolution photographs, and documentation about the heritage properties. Entries for the properties are arranged as comprehensively as possible, to accommodate varying types of information, including history and present state of the sites and monuments, facts and figures, descriptions of their surrounding environment and physical plan, past and present functions, restorations done, and all other relevant information. The data is processed using internationally adopted criteria of selection and collation. It consists of sets of digital information to be kept on Internet. It is a direct reference for anybody interested in the heritage sites and monuments for scientific, educational or touristic purposes.