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

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Corrective measures identified

In its Decision 31 COM 7A.19, the World Heritage Committee defined the measures to be taken urgently:

a) Adequate legal and institutional framework to be set up in one year:

(i) Re-issuance of Cabinet Decree No.425 - 2006;

(ii) Government provision to General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY) in Sana'a and Zabid of adequate budget to stabilize the degradation of the World Heritage property;

(iii) Completion of heritage protection laws;

(iv) Completion of the draft conservation plan, with translation into Arabic. Provision of short version for wide dissemination;

b) Physical degradation to be stopped immediately and reversed within two years:

(i) Stopping of poor new construction and further degradation of protected heritage assets;

(ii) Approval of contractors and individual specialists for carrying out emergency conservation works,

(iii) Appropriate house improvement design - bathrooms and kitchens, infrastructure and air conditioning;

(iv) Good designs for new houses within Zabid;

(v) Starting demolition of the concrete walls on the streets and other public spaces and replacing with brick walls;

(vi) Planned, costed and programmed schedule of medium and long-term actions;

(vii) Prescription rules and regulations to be followed by inhabitants and owners;

(viii) Adoption of Zabid Urban Development Plan.

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

As set out in Decision 31 COM 7A.19: “adequate legal and institutional framework set up in one year (2008); the physical degradation stopped immediately and reversed within two years (2009)”.

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

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1994-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 159,167
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/611/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 7,200 from the Italian Funds-in-Trust; USD 4,000 from the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement.

Previous monitoring missions

2002 and 2003: international expertise; December 2004: World Heritage Centre; January 2007: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Serious degradation of the city’s heritage (many houses and the ancient souk are in an alarming deterioration state);

b) Large percentage of the city's houses replaced by inappropriate concrete buildings;

c) Large sections of the city’s open spaces have been privatized, either illegally or informally and more than 30% of these built-up;

d) Lack of conservation measures and supportive developments.

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

The State Party submitted a very detailed report to the World Heritage Centre on 28 February 2008. The report provided information on a Cooperation Project between German Technical Assistance (GTZ), the Yemeni Government and the Social Fund for Development (SFD), agreed in June 2007.This project represents a commitment by the German Government to provide Zabid with 7.500.000 Euros over nine years of assistance. The proposed first project phase is scheduled to run for three years at a cost of 5.200.000 Euros of which around 40 % are co-financed by the Social Fund for Development. It officially started on 1 September 2007. A Project Office has been established in Zabid that works closely with all institutions at the local level and international and regional experts will be available over a period of three years. The project approach is that development must support preservation, and in turn, historical assets and cultural heritage should become a basis for development and economic gain for the local population.

The State Party considers that the estimate for the loss of traditional buildings given in the 2007 Mission Report is too high. It considers that 70% of the heritage shown in aerial photos of 1971 and 1981 is existing, although in a bad state of conservation. A new detailed survey is being undertaken to provide accurate data.

The State Party’s responses to the specific requests of the World Heritage Committee to be undertaken within one year are as follows:


a) Re-issuance of Cabinet Decree No.425 – 2006:

A new decree n° 437 – 2007 was issued in November 2007, in which, the Prime Minister put Zabid on the List of the most urgent national priorities creating a Higher Ministerial Coordination Committee for Zabid (HMCCZ) and defining role and actions of various governmental and local departments and authorities.


b) Government provision to GOPHCY in Sana'a and Zabid of adequate budget to stabilize the degradation of the World Heritage property:

The 2008 budget of the local office of GOPHCY has been increased by more than 25% and the Minister of Culture has also agreed an additional annual allocation from the Fund for Cultural Development in order to allow a functioning budget. This latter amount is not specified.


c) Completion of heritage protection laws:

The Historic Cities Law is close to enactment, after a three year gestation period. The Law has been reviewed and agreed upon by the Ministry of Legal Affairs (January 2008) and will be submitted for the Cabinet’s approval and then to the Parliament.


d) Completion of the draft conservation plan, with translation into Arabic, androvision of short version for wide dissemination:

The process of finalising the conservation plan is now under way: a new architectural survey is ongoing (with financial support from the World Heritage Fund). Thematic plans and the missing conservation plan will be finalised by end of June 2008. The regulations and architectural recommendations developed in 2003 have been reviewed and translated in Arabic, while a manual for conservation (urban and architectural) is also under preparation.


e) Stopping the physical degradation immediately and reversing it within two years:

The State Party reported that the new Governor of Hodeida has officially committed himself to enforce the legislation. To date more than 20 new violations have been stopped, which represents a great improvement to the “laisser-faire” status that was prevalent before. The new Cabinet decree n°437-2007 banned once again new constructions within the city boundaries. The Ministry of Public Works is currently opening new streets in the north-eastern new extension zone as planned, where new construction is allowed.

Moreover, a Local Stakeholder Coordination Committee was established in March 2007 and meets regularly. Since September 2007, it has successfully stopped some violations, and this could increase in the future. GTZ, GOPHCY and SFD are jointly testing an incentive-based rehabilitation programme, leading to the rehabilitation of at least 250 to 300 houses during the first three years of the Project. In future, incentive-based rehabilitation and technical advice will be available to all. A spatial rehabilitation strategy will be developed in order to focus rehabilitation measures.


f) Developing a draft Statement of outstanding universal value including the conditions of integrity and authenticity:

The State Party reported that this has not yet been drafted and will be done after the completion of the building survey.


g) Timescale:

The State Party considered that the new GTZ/SFD project needs time to develop and brings realistic results and changes in the city. They consider that in the light of the very successful experience of Shibam, they need to give the project sufficient time, to allow the population of Zabid to experience a real improvement in their day-to-day life, in order to build confidence and support for conservation projects. The State Party has indicated some progress with halting violations and reversing the acknowledged “laisser-faire” approach to these violations. They request that they are given a further three years to demonstrate adequate progress before the World Heritage Committee reviews its approach to the possible removal of Zabid from the World Heritage List.


The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that a comprehensive understanding of the buildings of the city and their state of conservation is essential if the GTZ/SFD project is to sustain the attributes that carry the outstanding universal value for which Zabid was inscribed on the World Heritage List. Therefore, a Statement of outstanding universal value should be drafted (and approved by the World Heritage Committee).


While conservation work will be ongoing for a long period of time in Zabid, it is important to establish indicators to demonstrate progress at regular intervals, if the values of Zabid are to be sustained sufficiently to allow it to remain on the World Heritage List. The World Heritage Committee may wish to review its decision as to whether to keep Zabid on the World Heritage List at the end of the first phase of the GTZ/SFD project in 2010 rather than 2009. 

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


Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7A.19

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7A.19, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Notes the progress made by the State Party to stop building violations and demolitions, to carry out a survey of the buildings, to complete heritage protection laws and to draft the conservation plan and urges the State Party to continue its work on the corrective measures adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007);

4. Welcomes the joint German Technical Assistance (GTZ), Yemeni Government and Social Fund for Development (SFD) project and the considerable funding and expertise that this has provided; and also notes that first phase will be completed in June 2010;

5. Welcomes, in particular, the emphasis that the joint project puts on integrating the local community's social, cultural and economic needs with the preservation of the property;

6. Reiterates its requests to the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, and a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a progress report on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

8. Decides to retain the Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) on the List of World Heritage in Danger