This article examines the ways in which global heritage discourse has operated across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, from an ideological and historical perspective. Ideologically, I consider tensions between heritage preservation practice and religious traditions that share the same landscape or material culture. This discussion, which is relatively marginalized in the heritage literature, has an adverse effect on many attempts by heritage preservationists to mediate or resolve conflicts and contradictions surrounding this type of historic resource. Historically, I revisit the presence and inclusion of experts from the MENA region in the formative years of a global heritage ideology. In this discussion, I juxtapose the relative marginalization of the Middle East and North Africa in global heritage debates against the frequency with which sites and communities across this region are put in the spotlight of religion-driven heritage conflict. Addressing these two forms of (mis)representation, I aim to bring to the foreground the way in which heritage studies is implicated in the constructions of narratives about – not from or by – the MENA region.