The Minister of Culture of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Shaikha Mai bint Mohammad Al Khalifa, has been named new Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee. She replaces the Minister of Culture of Brazil, João Luiz da Silva Ferreira, who has chaired the Committee for the past 12 months.

The Committee nominated Shaikha Mai bint Mohammad Al Khalifa by acclamation on the last day of their meeting in the Brasilian capital. She will chair the Committee up to and including its next session which will be held in the Kingdom of Bahrain in June 2011.

During the meeting, which began on 25 July, the Committee inscribed 21 new sites on the World Heritage List, including 15 cultural, 5 natural and 1 mixed site. The List now includes a total of 911 sites. Three countries, Kiribati, Marshall islands and Tajikistan, had sites inscribed for the first time. The Committee also added approved seven extensions to properties, added four sites to the List of World Heritage in Danger and withdrew one property from this list.

The World Heritage Committee, responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, comprises representatives of 21 countries, elected by the States Parties for four years.  Each year, the Committee adds new sites to the List and examines reports on the State of Conservation of inscribed sites and asks States Parties to take appropriate conservation and preservation measures when necessary. The Committee supervises the World Heritage Fund, which is used, among other purposes, for emergency action, training of experts and encouraging technical cooperation. UNESCO's World Heritage Centre is the Secretariat of the World Heritage Committee.