1.         Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman) (N 654)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (x)

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/654/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1994-1994)
Total amount approved: USD 15,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/654/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/654/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1997

The Committee, at its twentieth session (Merida, 1996) recalled some concerns, i.e. poaching of thirteen Oryx, and the construction of a reverse osmosis plant which has resulted in significant damage to the desert habitat, over the integrity of this site. The Committee recalled discussions held at the time of the inscription of the site in 1994 and noted that the Site's management authority had experienced delays in completing the management plan and defining the boundaries. Hence the Committee invited the State Party to keep it informed of the state of conservation of the site and progress with regard to the management planning and boundary definition project. In particular, the Committee requested clarification of the final boundaries of the Site by 15 April 1997. Furthermore, the Committee welcomed the proposal that the State Party consider hosting, in 1997, an international workshop to review the management plan and boundaries of the site, in collaboration with IUCN. Since the conclusion of the twentieth session of the Committee however, no communications have been received from Oman, up to the time of the preparation of this document. Any information that may be received by the Centre from Oman before the scheduled beginning of the Bureau's twenty-first session will be presented to the Bureau at the time of its meeting.

Action Required

Given the importance of the management planning and boundary definition project for the conservation of the site, the Bureau proposes that the State Party consider receiving representatives of IUCN and the Centre to undertake a site-visit and review the current status of the project.


21st extraordinary session of the Bureau in 1997:
At its twenty-first ordinary session in June 1997, the Bureau was informed of an interim plan submitted by the authorities of Oman which foresaw a new outer boundary, and provisional boundaries for five management zones, construction of an administrative headquarters, visitor and local service centres and other facilities, launching pilot projects in a variety of fields including environmental tourism and possible allocation of financial and human resources for the development of the site as Oman's first national park. As requested by the Bureau, the authorities of Oman have submitted a map showing the outer boundary of the Sanctuary and the provisional boundaries of the five management zones and a report on the status of the Arabian Oryx population in the Sanctuary. IUCN's review of the information contained in the map and the report is underway and will be ready for consideration by the Bureau at its twenty-second session in mid-1998. 
The Bureau requested IUCN to submit its findings on the review of the boundaries of this site to its twenty-second session due in mid-1998.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1997

At its twenty-first ordinary session in June 1997, the Bureau was informed of an interim plan submitted by the authorities of Oman which foresaw a new outer boundary, and provisional boundaries for five management zones, construction of an administrative headquarters, visitor and local service centres and other facilities, launching pilot projects in a variety of fields including environmental tourism and possible allocation of financial and human resources for the development of the site as Oman's first national park. The Bureau thanked the authorities of Oman and suggested that the State Party submit a map showing the outer boundary of the Sanctuary and the provisional boundaries of the five management zones and a report on the status of the Arabian Oryx population in the Sanctuary. The receipt of the map and report, requested for 1 October 1997, is awaited.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The Bureau may wish to examine new information that may be available at the time of its session and take appropriate action thereupon.

Decision Adopted: 21 BUR IV.B.30

The Bureau recalled that the Committee, at its twentieth session (Merida, 1996) expressed its concerns regarding the poaching of thirteen Oryx, the damage to the desert habitat caused by construction of a reverse osmosis plant and delays in the completion of the management planning and boundary definition project. The Bureau was informed that the authorities in Oman have provided the Centre an outline of an interim plan which foresees the following:

(a) a new outer boundary which will be fixed and boundaries of the five management zones which will be provisionally accepted for 5 years to allow the Ministry of Resource Management and the Environment (MRME) to map individual zones more accurately;

(b) construction of an MRME Headquarters at or near Al Ajaiz with management, research and monitoring facilities and a visitor centre, a local service centre and a desalination plant for supplying water to Al Ajaiz and its integrated development and access roads to the desalination plant at Al Khumkham, specifically to Haylat at Kharasheef and the Habbab Road;

(c) pilot projects on environmental tourism, environmental tourism plan for the coastal region from Ras Madrakab to Al Khaluf, establishment of a local coordinating committee, range land and livestock management, archaeological studies, particularly in the northern extension to the Sanctuary, and environmental awareness programmes; and

(d) possible MRME financial and human resources to develop the Sanctuary as Oman's first national park.

The Bureau thanked the Omani authorities for providing an outline of the interim plan and encouraged them to develop the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary as Oman's first national park. The Bureau requested the Omani authorities to provide a map indicating the outer boundary and the boundaries of the five management zones and to report to the Centre on the status of the Arabian Oryx population in the Sanctuary and the impacts of the reverse osmosis plant on the desert ecosystem. The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to study the map(s) and the report(s) to be provided by authorities in Oman and assess whether a site visit to the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary is necessary. The Delegate of Germany stated that this case clearly demonstrates the danger connected with the inscription of a site without exact boundaries.

Decision Adopted: 21 COM VII.C.41

VII.41 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-first extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-97/CONF.208/4B Section III.A.c), on the following natural properties: