Press Release

World Monuments Fund to Recognize Efforts in Türkiye and Syria

Dr. Marwa Al-Sabouni, Architect and Author, and Prof. Dr. Zeynep Gül Ünal, Vice President, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP), Will Be Presented with the Watch Award

New York, NY, May 18, 2023—World Monuments Fund (WMF) will honor Dr. Marwa Al-Sabouni, architect and author, and Prof. Dr. Zeynep Gül Ünal, Vice President, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP), for their work advocating for cultural heritage in Syria and Türkiye in the wake of crises. The ceremony will take place as part of WMF’s second annual Summer Soirée, an inspiring evening to honor advocacy in cultural heritage and welcome the start of summer. This year’s iteration has a particular focus on crisis response. The event, to be held at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Terrace Room, will be hosted by WMF’s Junior Board and will feature remarks by The Honorable Lee Satterfield, United States Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“As an organization committed to safeguarding our shared global heritage, we observed with great concern the impact of the tragic February earthquake and its after shocks on the people of the region and their heritage,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and CEO of World Monuments Fund.“ Our decades-long experience in crisis response around the world continues to reveal the lasting consequences of this destruction on communities.” Since the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria this past February, WMF has worked closely with partners in the region to understand the situation on the ground and how we can best be of assistance. In June, staff members will travel to Türkiye to conduct emergency assessments of sites affected by the earthquakes.

Dr. Marwa Al-Sabouni was selected for the prize in recognition of her work raising awareness about Syria’s heritage and for her innovative architectural practice, which often involves reconstruction in conflict zones and asks how the built environment can foster social harmony.

Prof. Dr. Zeynep Gül Ünal will be honored for her work leading response efforts in Türkiye in the wake of the recent earthquakes and for her expertise as a specialist in conservation and risk management.

WMF’s Crisis Response Fund provides resources for early recovery actions so that heritage sites can build community resiliency, create economic opportunity, and strengthen social cohesion in the wake of disaster. To learn more, visit


About World Monuments Fund

World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s most treasured places to enrich people’s lives and build mutual understanding across cultures and communities. The organization is headquartered in New York City with offices and affiliates in Cambodia, India, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and the UK. Since 1965, our global team of experts has preserved the world's diverse cultural heritage using the highest international standards at more than 700 sites in 112 countries. Partnering with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF draws on heritage to address some of today’s most pressing challenges: climate change, underrepresentation, imbalanced tourism, and post-crisis recovery. With a commitment to the people who bring places to life, WMF embraces the potential of the past to create a more resilient and inclusive society.

About World Monuments Fund Junior Board

The Junior Board of World Monuments Fund is comprised of approximately 20 young professionals from around the world between the ages of 21 and 39. Junior Board members represent the diverse backgrounds and cultures that WMF seeks to serve and possess a spirit of intrigue, adventure, collaboration, and innovation. The Junior Board is co-chaired by Henry Iseman, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Penta Medical Recycling, and Annie Liang-Zhou, Founding Partner, Liang Capital Partners.

About Dr. Marwa Al-Sabouni

Dr. Marwa Al-Sabouni is an award-winning architect, author, and international speaker from Syria. She received the Prince Claus Award in 2018 and was featured in the BBC’s 100 Women list in 2019. Her acclaimed book The Battle for Home was chosen by The Guardian as one of best architecture books of 2016. She was named one of the top 50 thinkers around the world by Prospect Magazine, and her 2016 TED Talk has been viewed over one million times. Architectural Digest listed her as one of the top contenders for the Pritzker Prize 2018. Her writing has been published in RIBA Journal, Architectural Review, Financial Times, Standpoint Magazine, ICRC Journal, and elsewhere. She runs a private studio with her partner in Homs and is co-founder of Arch-News, the world's first and only website dedicated to architectural news in Arabic, which won the Royal Kuwaiti Award for best media project in the Arab World 2010. Her second book, Building for Hope, was published in 2021. She is currently a fellow at Ralston College in the United States.

About Prof. Dr. Zeynep Gül Ünal

Dr. Zeynep Gül Ünal turns her academic expertise into service to humanity. Dr. Ünal is a Professor in the Restoration Department, Faculty of Architecture at Yildiz Technical University and serves as a specialist in cultural heritage conservation and disaster risk management issues globally. She is the Vice President of ICOMOS International and works in various committees including ICOMOS ICORP, ICORP-Turkey, UNESCO Turkey, and is the Coordinator of the ICOMOS ICORP Crisis Monitoring and Response Working Group. After the February 6, 2023, Turkiye-Syria Earthquake, Dr. Ünal was appointed to the Advisory Board established by the Turkish Ministry of Culture for the protection of cultural heritage in the disaster area. She is the coordinator and director of the ICORP On The Road Project. Dr. Ünal and her team produced documentaries showcasing the inspiring stories of professionals and local communities about the post-disaster response and recovery of cultural heritage in Nepal, Mali, Pakistan, Brasil, India and Turkiye. Dr. Ünal is also a trainer and operational team member in the GEA Urban Search and Rescue Group (INSARAG Acr.), where she participated in many search and rescue operations and humanitarian assistance on response phase, globally, over the years. She is working to bring Urban SAR experience to heritage field in preparedness and the emergency response phase.


Media Contact

Judith Walker, Vice President of Communications, World Monuments Fund,

Open PDF