Decision : 39 COM 8B.11
Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Documents WHC-15/39.COM/8B and WHC-15/39.COM/INF.8B1,
- Inscribes Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (i) and (iii);
- Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
The serial property of the ‘Rock Art in the Hail Region’ is comprised of two components: the Jabal Umm Sinman at Jubbah, located approximately 90 km northwest of the city of Hail, and the Jabal al-Manjor/Raat at Shuwaymis, approximately 250 km south of Hail. At Jabal Umm Sinman, Jubbah, the ancestors of present-day Arabs left marks of their presence in numerous petroglyph panels and inscriptions within a landscape that once overlooked a freshwater lake; and at Jabal al-Manjor and Jabal Raat, Shuwaymis, the large number of petroglyphs and inscriptions has been attributed to almost 10,000 years of human history within a valley with flowing water. Together, these components contain the biggest and richest rock art complexes in Saudi Arabia and the wider region. Processes of desertification from the mid-Holocene altered the local environmental context and patterns of human settlement in these areas, and these changes are expressed in the numerous petroglyph panels and rich inscriptions. The attributes of the property include the large number of petroglyphs, inscriptions, archaeological features and the environmental setting.
Criterion (i): The rock art of Jabal Umm Sinman at Jubbah and the Jabals of al-Major and Raat contain an exceptionally large number of petroglyphs, created by using a range of techniques with simple stone hammers, against a background of gradual environmental deterioration, and are visually stunning expressions of the human creative genius.
Criterion (iii): The rock art at Jabal Umm Sinman at Jubbah and the Jabals of al-Major and Raat at Shuwaymis provide an exceptional testimony to the challenges of past societies in response to environmental catastrophes. In addition, the petroglyphs at Shuwaymis provide an exceptional testimony of a society that vanished, leaving behind an exceptionally detailed record of its existence.
The serial approach is justified for this property, and together, the components of the Rock Art of the Hail Region contain all the attributes necessary to express the Outstanding Universal Value. The boundaries of the components of the property are appropriate, and buffer zones have been established, although the buffer zone of Jabal Umm Sinman should be extended to the west to adequately protect the visual setting and views. A tall water tower and a dam constructed by the Municipality of Jubbah have an impact on the visual setting of Jabal Umm Sinman; and fencing and other protective measures need further reinforcement to prevent vandalism and graffiti to the rock art, particularly in the south-western portion of Jabal Umm Sinman. The components of the property have been extensively documented and generally exhibit a good state of conservation, although vulnerabilities exist due to some threats from vandalism, development in the buffer zone and lack of preparedness for increased future tourism activity.
The authenticity of the serial property and of each component is demonstrated by the diversity and large number of petroglyphs located within the components at Jabal Umm Sinman and Jabal al-Manjor/Raat, and that all have retained their original location, setting, materials, form and design.
Protection and Management Requirements
Protection is provided through Royal Decree No. M/26 dated 23/6/1392 H (1972 AD) and through the Resolution by the Council of Ministers No. 78 dated 16/3/1429 H (2008 AD). The Government of Saudi Arabia, and of the Hail Region provide substantial resources for the safeguarding of the two components of the property - Jabal Umm Sinman at Jubbah, and Jabal al-Manjor/Raat at Shuwaymis. The museum and antiquities office in Hail has responsibilities for the protection and management of rock art, inscriptions and archaeological sites in the region, and any noted interference or damage to rock art can be reported to the local police by site guards or citizens, including local Bedouin tribes. The local community therefore plays an important role in protecting the sites, and in welcoming visitors.
The property is managed by the provincial Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) in Hail, which operates under the supervision of the SCTA head office in Riyadh. There are on-site staff at Jubbah, and site guards are soon to be provided at Shuwaymis, following the completion of a road from the Shuwaymis village to an interpretation centre at the entrance to the buffer zone. Additional planning for tourism management and interpretation have been identified for future work by the State Party.
A management plan that considers the long-term development and protection of the component sites was developed with the nomination to the World Heritage List; and there are also provincial and local tourism plans in place (dated 2002 and 2004 respectively). While there are adequate monitoring arrangements for the rock art, there is a need to monitor development and tourism activities and impacts, to establish Heritage Impact Assessment processes, and to implement remedial measures where necessary.
The State Party has undertaken to mitigate the visual impact of several developments that have had an impact on the setting of the property – including the existing rain water diversion dam and water tower.
- Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:
- Extend the buffer zone of the Jabal Umm Sinman component of 1.0 to 1.5 km towards the west and the south, in order to preserve the long-term visual integrity of the property;
- Frame and mask the rain water diversionary dam or water barrier near Jubbah with typical low desert vegetation in view of the necessity of the structure and the substantial investment already made in its construction;
- Consider ways of reducing the visual impact of the water tower that is constructed on the eastern side of Jabal Umm Sinman, near the existing fresh water reservoir;
- Set up visitor infrastructures that will include marked routes, raised walkways and viewing platforms, that will prevent visitors from making contact with the rock art panels, and carry out this work in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties;
- Develop a tourism management strategy including an interpretation strategy that will address the increase in visitation numbers as part of the management plan;
- Develop monitoring indicators for impacts of development and tourism on the attributes of the serial property;
- Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2016 a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.