The idea of capital of culture was first laid out during an international conference on cultural policies organized by the UN in Mexico in 1982, which adopted an international cultural development covenant for the next decade (1988–1997). It called for a cultural dialogue among the peoples of the world: an open dialogue, which respects national cultural identities, and the diversity of civilizations; based on the unity of core human values. UNESCO was entrusted with the focal role of linking culture and development. ALESCO thus, adopted a strategy for implementing national cultural projects which resulted in the adoption of a program for regional capitals of culture. Thus, a series of capitals of Arab culture was designated, starting with Cairo in 1996, followed by Tunis (1997), Sharjah (1998), Beirut (1999), Riyadh (2000), Kuwait (2001), Amman (2002), Rabat (2003), Sanaa (2004), Khartoum (2005), Masqat (2006), Algiers (2007), Damascus (2008), and Jerusalem (2009).