The 5th Steering Committee Meeting of the Umayyad Project was hold in Faro (Portugal) from the 2ndtill the 4th of June. Partners were hosted by the Umayyad project Portuguese partners: Algarve Tourism Board and Regional Direction of Culture of Algarve. Partners discussed there all the crucial issues concerning the project's development and defined the future actions.
During the first day, an overall review of the Project situation was made by Juan Manuel Cid, the Project coordinator, and many decisions have been taken considering that the project will finish in December, 2015. Among the activities carried out during the first semester 2015, one of the most underlined is the Familiarization trip that has been jointly developed by the Lebanese partners and the Andalusian Public Foundation the Legacy of al-Andalus, lead partner. This fam trip gave the chance to touroperators to know some stages of the Umayyad route in the Lebanon, so they could be close to this tourist wealth and evaluate the opportunity to sell this package. The participants gave an excellent feedback on this trip. They emphasized as well that what make it especially interesting is that it means a real experience: involving local population, promoting tourist sites, gastronomy, handicrafts, etc. Under the Umayyad project 6 fam trips more will be carried out: in Egypt, Algarve, Andalusia, Sicily, Jordan and Tunisia.
Besides, the Lebanese partners, the Municipality of Byblos, Lebanese American University and Safadi Foundation presented the advances on the Anjar’s museum designs, which will be open by the end of 2015.
On the 2nd day, an International Meeting on Cultural Tourism took place in the Municipal Museum of Faro. During this event, the President of Faro's municipality, Rogerio Bacalhau; the Regional Director of the Regional Algarve Culture Board, Alexandra Gonçalves; the President of the Algarve Tourism Board, Desidério Silva, and Juan Manuel Cid, representative of the Andalusian Public Foundation the Legacy of al-Andalus, lead partner of the project, stood up the idea that cultural tourism is a key to sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean area. Afterwards, Nathalie Sanzo, of the Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) expounded the APP project of the Umayyad itinerary within the Mediterranean region. Furthermore, the Professor Mostafa Zekri talked about The Umayyads in Gharbal-Andalus, and Lola Luque, representative as well of the Andalusian Public Foundation the Legacy of al-Andalus, presented the interest of cultural tourist. At the end of the meeting, partners got a guided tour of the Municipal Museum and the Faro Historic Centre.
Finally, the partners had the great opportunity to participate in a field visit organized by the Portuguese partners to a stage of the Umayyad itinerary in Algarve. During the morning, they visited San Sebastião fortress and Castro Marim Castle; later, the Archaeology Museum, Alcoutim Castle and Ruins of Alcoutim Old Castle. In the afternoon, they visited Cacela Velha village, the Islamic exhibition in Tavira and to finish the old Almohad tower.