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20 endangered Arab heritage sites focus of UN talks

Bahrain News
Thu, 14 Jun 2018
Reem Al Daaysi
1 of 2

THE status of 20 endangered sites in Arab countries will be discussed at a major world heritage meeting in Bahrain.

They are among 33 global cultural and natural heritage sites whose state of conservation will be discussed at the 42nd World Heritage Committee (WHC) meeting, which will be held at The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain from June 24 to July 4.

The sites, inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, include sites in war-ravaged countries such as Syria, Yemen and Palestine.

Also on the agenda are cultural and natural sites in Libya, Egypt, the Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The GDN reported in March that more than 2,000 global experts are expected at the meeting to discuss the conservation of world heritage sites and review nominations to the World Heritage List.

Bahrain’s former ambassador to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Shaikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa has been appointed to chair the 2018 committee and session.

Discussions will include the Ancient City of Aleppo, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986 and has been damaged due to armed conflict since 2011.

Although restoration efforts have been ongoing, the site still faces challenges embodied in the lack of strategic planning and risk management, lack of documentation as well as the instability of the security situation.

Other sites damaged by terrorist organisation the Islamic State will also be discussed during the session such as the site of Palmyra, where iconic second-century Roman monuments were destroyed in January last year.

Palmyra, which has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1980, has been suffering from destruction, damage, illegal excavations, looting and armed conflict since March 2011.

“Preparations have started for the World Heritage Committee meeting a long time ago,” said Unesco cultural heritage special adviser Mounir Bouchenaki.

“We have had several meetings in Paris with Unesco members along with committee chairwoman Shaikha Haya.

“Participants are now arriving in Bahrain where logistical preparations are running smoothly. By next week everything will be ready.

“Events and workshops are also running in parallel to the WHC meeting.”

The state of sites on the World Heritage List will also be discussed along with nominations, tentative lists submitted by state parties and financial and administrative issues.

The GDN reported on May 7 that although Bahrain plans to have its burial mounds in A’ali granted World Heritage Site status, that will not be discussed during this meeting.

According to Dr Bouchenaki, the host country refrains from presenting its sites to preserve its neutrality.

Bahrain’s Pearl Path was the second site earning a Unesco World Heritage status in 2012, the first being Bahrain Fort in 2005.


On the sidelines of the meeting, Bahrain will also host two international forums to provide a global opportunity for knowledge exchange between experts from all specialities.

The Young Heritage Professionals Forum will take place from June 17 to 26, while the World Heritage Site Managers forum will take place from June 20 to 28.

“The role the youth play in raising awareness about preserving heritage will be the main focus during The Young Heritage Professionals Forum,” added Mr Bouchenaki.

“Bahrain should take advantage of the 1,500 to 2,000 experts coming from all around the world to Bahrain to discuss various issues.

“They are all experts in cultural and natural heritage preservation.”

For more information about the WHC meeting, visit

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