1.         Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun (Bahrain) (C 1192ter)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2005

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1192/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2002-2002)
Total amount approved: USD 26,500
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1192/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

January-February 2006: World Heritage Centre mission; June 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission; July 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS advisory mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1192/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 11 June 2012, the Minister of Culture of the Kingdom of Bahrain sent a letter to the Director of the World Heritage Centre informing of plans for new infrastructure development to be carried out by the Ministry of Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning. The proposals included a project to develop a highway (called “N Road”) along the northern coast of Bahrain Island. This highway’s route was expected to cross through the buffer zone of the inscribed property, 50m from its boundaries, where numerous unexcavated archaeological areas and palm grove plantations are located.

At the request of the State Party, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS advisory mission was carried out from 27 to 30 July 2012 in order to assess the potential impact of the “N-Road” project.

The advisory mission concluded that the proposed construction of the N-Road through the buffer zone of the property would constitute a threat to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). However, the mission recognised the high strategic importance of the N-Road in terms of transportation and connectivity between the Capital and the Northern sectors and that this issue had yet to be comprehensively addressed. Several recommendations were made, including the need to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), including a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), focusing at the first stage on the portion that would directly affect the property and its buffer zone. It was recommended that upon finalisation of the EIA and HIA, a new proposal for connecting the areas and to respond to infrastructure connection needs could be developed as a joint endeavour between the involved authorities, to ensure that no impact existed to cultural or natural heritage assets. It was also requested that the results of the EIA and HIA be submitted by the Ministry of Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning and the Ministry of Works to the Ministry of Culture in order, for the latter, to officially share them with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS.

On 28 January 2013, the Ministry of Culture sent a letter to the World Heritage Centre together with the EIA and HIA carried out by the Ministry of Works. A document presenting the vision and strategic objectives towards an integrated management and conservation plan of the property was also attached. The Ministry of Culture informed the World Heritage Centre that the results of the EIA and HIA led to discussions between the concerned authorities in view of developing alternative routings for the N-Road.

 

On 28 March 2013, a meeting was held at the World Heritage Centre at the request of the State Party with representatives of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Works, as well as with ICOMOS. The work carried out since the advisory mission of July 2012, in view of identifying alternative solutions, was presented. The representative of the Ministry of Works also informed of the decision taken by the highest authorities of the Government of Bahrain to cancel the initial route of the N-Road and documentation that officially confirms this decision was provided. A detailed report on the way the cancellation of the N-Road initial route will be addressed and the options which shall now be considered to achieve the project, while ensuring the integrity of the World Heritage property, was also presented. This particularly concerns the portion of the road which should now, according to the new planning options, cross the visual corridor adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 2006 as an extension to the buffer zone of the property. It stated that no development above sea level should be authorized by the State Party in the visual corridor except for a bridge at a minimal distance of 3 km to the shore. The new planning options developed by the Ministry of Works concern the location of the said bridge which may need to be constructed at distance ranging from 2 to 3 km from the shore. The State Party, considering that the impact of a bridge located at a shorter distance than 3 km to the shore can be mitigated by a high quality of its design, seeks the approval of the World Heritage Committee to further develop the new planning options within the established visual corridor but considering 2 to 3 km distance to the shore.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies wish to stress the commitment of the State Party in implementing the recommendations of the advisory mission and the significant efforts made in cancelling the initial route of the N-Road in order to preserve the integrity of the World Heritage property. They suggest that this successful cooperation between the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies be highlighted and that the State Party be commended for its commitment to the conservation and protection of the property. They are also of the view that the request of the State Party to have the possibility to explore different options for the location of the future bridge, crossing the visual corridor within a 2 to 3 km distance to the shore is acceptable, providing that the design of the future bridge is of high quality and that it ensures the minimum visual impact. Should the World Heritage Committee decide to positively respond to the State Party’s request, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend that no decision be taken regarding the final location of the bridge prior to a review of the details of the selected option.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7B.47

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decisions 32 COM 8B.54 and 33 COM 7B.53 adopted at its 32nd (Quebec City, 2008) and 33rd (Seville, 2009) sessions respectively,

3.  Commends the State Party for its commitment to the conservation and protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property including its conditions of integrity, and for its close cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies towards the identification of alternative solutions of the route of the N-Road;

4.  Invites the State Party to continue its efforts towards the protection of the property as well as its cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;

5.  Approves the request of the State Party to explore options for the location of the bridge foreseen to cross the visual corridor within a distance ranging from 2 to 3 km to the shore and strongly recommends that priority be given to the options which would provide the maximal distance between the bridge and the shore;

6.  Requests the State Party to submit the results of the studies carried out concerning the location and design of the proposed bridge to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before a final decision is taken;

7.  Reiterates its request to the State Party to finalize the integrated management and conservation plan for the property and submit, by 1 February 2014 , three printed and electronic copies of this plan, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;

8.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015 , an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.