1.         Bahla Fort (Oman) (C 433)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1987

Criteria  (iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   1988-2004

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/433/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1988-1988)
Total amount approved: USD 57,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/433/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 25,000 (private funding).

Previous monitoring missions

2001, 2002 and 2003: World Heritage Centre expert missions; December 2009: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS / ICCROM reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Deterioration of the earthen structures of the Fort;

b) Use of inappropriate conservation techniques;

c) Urban pressure;

d) Lack of a management plan and appropriate legislation.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/433/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

On 12 February 2010 a report on the state of conservation of the Bahla Fort and its Oasis was submitted by the State Party. The report outlines progress made on the management plan and institutional framework at the property, as well as updates on ongoing restoration works at various parts of the property. The report also covers progress on the souq rehabilitation project and improving traditional skills in earthen architecture.

 

From 18 to 23 December 2009, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM monitoring mission visited the property as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009). 

a) Management Plan

The State Party’s report states that a first management plan was developed for the site in 2003 and completed in 2005. It also states, however, that only part of the 2005 management plan has been adopted by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture: that part which deals with policies for safeguarding and enhancement of the property. 

The reactive monitoring mission found that the management plan was still in the phase of being finalized. The mission team met with the consultants carrying out the work and were presented with a draft of the updated plan, still to be officially endorsed by the State Party. Assurances were given to the mission that the State Party would be shortly adopting the management plan, probably through a royal decree. 

b) Institutional development

The State Party reports that a new regional office of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture has been established in the Dakhliyah region which is responsible for the Bahla Fort. A site office has also been established at Bahla and additional staff has been appointed. Local community involvement in the site has also been encouraged through the work of these new offices. Building regulations have also been adopted.

c) Project proposal for the restoration and rehabilitation of the souq

The original project proposal for the rehabilitation of the souq was reviewed by ICOMOS in 2009 and a number of significant changes were requested. The State Party reports that as a result, an ICOMOS specialist architect has been appointed to work with the project consultants on an updated proposal. The State Party reports that it will not take any further action until the proposal is approved by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.

The mission team had the opportunity to review progress on the new design concept for the souq and found that the project addressed many of the concerns outlined by ICOMOS. In the meantime, the mission also noticed significant issues related to the state of conservation of some of the earthen buildings in the souq, caused primarily by flooding and that the drainage system needs to be significantly improved in order to alleviate risks from flooding. 

d) Improvements in earthen construction know-how

The State Party reports that in order to allow for the traditional techniques of working with earthen architecture, a new sustainable source of the basic material needed to be located. A sustainable source was found and the Ministry of Heritage and Culture has established a centralized production facility for making earthen bricks for the property.

The mission noted that while the establishment of this new production facility was a positive step, there was still some concern about the need for proper research and guidance on the use of the correct materials and mixes for the earthen bricks. Such research will lead to improvements in the quality of the bricks and, therefore, fewer conservation problems. 

e) Other issues

The mission noted that the currently defined boundaries may not provide adequate protection. It therefore recommended that a study be carried out with the aim of enlarging the protected area and establishing a buffer zone.. 

Another issue examined by the mission was the Falaj water system, which is an important component of the Oasis. The mission recommended that conservation work be carried out on some parts of the system. 

The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies feel that the completion of an updated Management Plan would constitute a significant achievement for the establishment of an appropriate management system at the property. They urge, however, for the full adoption of the final plan by the State Party as soon as possible, as has been requested in the past by the World Heritage Committee.

The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies feel that the strengthening of the institutional framework and the involvement of the local community at the Fort should be seen as a very positive step in the long-term sustainability of the property.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are pleased with the steps being taken by the State Party to improve the design approach to the souq, and will examine the new proposal when it is finalized by the State Party and submitted to the World Heritage Centre.

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 7B.62

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B. 61, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Commends the State Party for the progress achieved both on the Management Plan, the Souq project, and the restoration of various parts of the property;

4. Requests the State Party to fully adopt the Management Plan as soon as it is finalized to ensure the proper management and conservation of the property;

5. Also requests the State Party to submit the revised proposal for the restoration of the souq to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre;

6. Further requests the State Party to implement the set of recommendations outlined in the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission report of December 2009, notably to continue with research on the earthen bricks with the aim of producing guidelines for improving their quality as a building material, to consider enlarging the buffer zone to ensure the necessary protection of the property and to take steps to begin the conservation of the Falaj system;

7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2012 an updated report on the state of conservation and progress made in responding to the recommendations above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012.

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/8E,

2. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex I of Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8E, WHC-10/34.COM/8E.Add and WHC-10/34.COM/8E.Add.2 for the following World Heritage properties: 

3. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed in priority;

4. Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely: