In late October 1999 I visited the third annual Syrian National Documentation Festival in the Damascus fairgrounds. Syrian ministry employees and Ba'th Party officials have organized the ten-day long annual Documentation Festival since the mid-1990s. Its stated purpose is to preserve and celebrate the heritage of the nation. In 1999 the exhibition was separated into four large halls devoted to different documents and art. The most prominent hall was devoted to heroic paintings, photos, and videotaped speeches of then Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad. Other halls were devoted to popular art, family, local, and municipal histories and documents, and selections from the archives of various departments and ministries. The final hall contained the ministry of education, ministry of antiquities, including the national archives, the ministry of the interior including the departments of awqâf (sing, waqf), Damascus municipal police, and the ministry of agriculture.