1.         Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) (C 611)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1993

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2000-present

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/611/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1994-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 114,167
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/611/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

November 1999: UNESCO mission;  May 2001: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission ; September-October 2001: World Heritage Centre mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/611/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Previous deliberations:
Twenty-fourth extraordinary session of the Bureau – paragraph III.2 (i)
Twenty-fourth session of the Committee – paragraph VIII.31

New information: As recommended by the twenty-fourth session of the Committee in Cairns, a joint multidisciplinary mission by ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre is being organized and is expected to take place before the Bureau meeting. The result of the mission will be presented at the meeting.

Action Required

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Principal issues:

New information:

Since the joint WHC/ICOMOS mission of May 2001, and following recognition by the Yemeni authorities of the state of conservation of the Town, the authorities have published a decree forbidding all construction in the Historic Town of Zabid (19 June 2001).  In parallel, the Minister of Culture created a “High Committee for the supervision of the Safeguarding of the Town of Zabid”, comprising 12 members representing the ministries and bodies concerned, The World Bank, GTZ, KFW and UCHP (Dutch project).

The High Committee met at end-June 2001, and approved an action plan comprising 9 main actions:

1.        Sewage network

2.        Paving of streets and evacuation of rain waters

3.        Street lighting

4.        Collection and treatment of rubbish

5.        Restoration and rehabilitation of the historic Souk

6.        Restoration of Bab El-Qurtub (South Port)

7.        Restoration of the facades of the monuments and improvements to the ring walls and facades of the residential constructions

8.        Establishment of the plan of the historic town and the safeguarding plan for the monuments

9.        Restoration of the monuments and public buildings.

To date, the amounts approved and allocated to these projects represent a total of approximately US$ 8 million (of which about US$ 7 million for the sewage network and rubbish removal).  The GOPHCY budget (preservation body for historic towns), was recently voted for 2002 for an amount of approximately US$ 250,000 (no budget in 2001).

Finally, the Ministry of Public Works has promised to finance the paving and lighting of the streets of the town for an unspecified amount.

A Centre mission (September/October 2001) noted that all construction activity had effectively been halted in Zabid.  The aim of this mission was to evaluate the situation and to define an initial approach for a safeguarding and urbanism plan.  So that the projects approved by the High Committee could achieve the expected results, the mission requested the Yemeni Government to implement without delay, seven urgent intervention measures in the town:

The Ministers of Culture, Planning and Public Works have undertaken to communicate these recommendations to the Counsel of Ministers for their approval and their immediate implementation.

Finally, in agreement with the authorities, it was decided to send during October/November 2001, a team of consultants specialised in urbanism, restoration and socio-economic development, to define the major principles upon which the safeguarding and urbanism plan should be based, the specifications for the restoration of the constructions and the modalities for the socio-economic revitalisation of the Souk of Zabid.

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


Decision Adopted: 25 BUR V.82-86

V.82       The Secretariat reported on the findings of the joint multidisciplinary mission carried out by ICOMOS to Zabid, confirming the extremely serious conditions of the site. According to the mission’s report, 35% of the urban texture of Zabid has disappeared or has been replaced with modern constructions since the time of inscription. 20% of the old houses have been vacated by their former habitants, and the city market has been almost completely abandoned. Mention was made of the main qualifying points of the Action Plan envisaged by the joint WHC-ICOMOS report, including as a preliminary measure, the preparation of a detailed urban conservation Plan focusing in terms of strategy on the social and economic revitalization of Zabid as the only means to ensure its long-term conservation.

V.83       ICOMOS supported the analysis of the Secretariat, drawing the attention of the Bureau to the catastrophic situation of Zabid, and supported the Action Plan devised by the joint WHC-ICOMOS mission. The Action Plan includes the proposal for an emergency assistance request to be immediately submitted by the State Party for the preparation of an urban conservation and revitalization Plan.

V.84       The Delegate of Morocco asked that the recommended action not be limited to a request of assistance, and called for a broader appeal to be launched by UNESCO for an international campaign towards safeguarding this outstanding city, that is important in the context of the South-Arabic civilization. The Delegate of Australia supported the call made by the Delegate of Morocco for an extraordinary effort involving a wide range of international actors. The Director of the World Heritage Centre reported on his efforts to secure World Bank funding. The Secretariat further explained that the Action Plan formulated by the Centre and ICOMOS experts took into account, and integrated in its proposal, all the various actors involved or potentially involved in initiatives for the conservation of the cultural heritage of Yemen, such as the World Bank and others.

V.85       The Bureau took note of the report prepared by the WHC/ICOMOS mission, as well as the will manifested by the Yemeni authorities to take immediate steps to carry out corrective measures to safeguard Zabid. The Bureau hoped there would be international donors to contribute to the major effort required from the State Party for the safeguarding of this World Heritage site.  The Bureau recommended to the State Party to take all necessary measures to immediately stop all new constructions within the Old City of Zabid.

V.86       The Bureau approved the Action Plan presented in the experts’ report, and recommended the State Party that a request of emergency assistance be immediately submitted to start its implementation.

Decision Adopted: 25 COM VIII.80-82

VIII.80 The Committee examined the report on the state of conservation of Zabid. It noted the positive development of the situation on the ground, especially with regard to the large mobilization of resources, both at the national and international level, resulting from the inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2000.

VIII.81 The Committee also noted the results of the first missions carried out by the Centre in the framework of the emergency assistance approved by the Bureau at its last session in June 2001. The very significant steps taken by the State Party in order to halt new constructions within the World Heritage site, and the recommendations of the Centre concerning the necessary steps for the future were recognized. These recommendations include:

VIII.82 The Committee commended the Yemeni authorities for their efforts and continued co-operation with the World Heritage Centre, and thanked the GTZ, the KFW and the Dutch authorities for their precious contributions and their interest in the Historic Town of Zabid. The Committee, furthermore, encouraged the Yemeni authorities to continue their efforts and immediately implement the seven urgent measures recommended by the World Heritage Centre mission of September/October 2001.