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Decision 18 EXT.COM 5.1
Any other matter: Nominations to the World Heritage List - Nominations to be processed on an emergency basis - Lebanon

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/23/18.EXT.COM/5 and WHC/23/18.EXT.COM/INF.5,
  2. Inscribes the Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli, Lebanon, on the World Heritage List according to the emergency procedure, on the basis of criteria (ii) and (iv);
  3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

    Brief synthesis

    The Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli has been erected in Tripoli, the second largest city in Lebanon and the capital of the Northern Governorate, and was designed by Oscar Niemeyer between 1962-1967 and built until 1975. The main building of the International Fair consists of a huge oblong covered exhibition space, the Grand Canopy, under which the exhibition pavilions of several countries could be freely installed. The entrance to the International Fair complex begins at the southern end of the Grand Canopy: a vast ramp leads to a raised portico from where the visitors can discover the entire composition. A series of educational, recreational and cultural facilities were immersed within a “Brazilian Tropical Garden” and connected by water pools and pedestrian passages. In the northern part, a ceremonial ramp leads to the outdoor amphitheatre, surmounted by a monumental arch forming a symbolic gateway to modernity and a landmark of the city of Tripoli.

    The use of traditional elements of local architecture was intended to express the aspirations of the newly independent Arab peoples to take part in the universal process of modernisation. For its scale, its daring structural solutions, its architectural expression, its vast modernist public spaces and gardens, its links to post-independence identity buildings, and despite the deterioration of most of its structures and the endangered integrity of several of its components due to the ageing of the concrete, the Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli is one of the most representative works of modern architecture of the 20th century in the Arab States.

    Criterion (ii): The Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli expresses in an exceptional way the successful integration of Brazilian modernist concepts into the context of the Arab Near East in Tripoli and is a vivid example of cultural exchange in the field of architecture. The collaboration between Oscar Niemeyer, the architect of the complex, and the Lebanese engineers and contractors has given them valuable experience in sophisticated large-scale reinforced concrete structures and concrete shells, while a new generation of Lebanese architects was inspired by Niemeyer’s “Brazilian modernism”, which is reflected in several of their works, whether in Lebanon or in the Arab Near East.

    Criterion (iv): Oscar Niemeyer’s monumental International Fair project in Tripoli is an outstanding example of world fairs that emerged in the newly independent Arab countries to express national pride and take part in the universal process of modernisation. It constitutes an outstanding architectural example of a large-scale modernist exhibition complex, which defines an architectural typology characterised by simplicity and discipline where a single main large structure hosts the pavilions; a set of smaller structures serve social- reformative and educational purposes.


    The Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli covers an elliptical area corresponding to the limits of the fairground as it was built and contains all buildings designed by Niemeyer. Almost all buildings and structures were preserved according to Niemeyer’s original design but lie in a state of abandonment, while outdoor and landscaped areas are maintained. Despite the loss of interior finishes, fixtures, glazing, doors and equipment due to the war, the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value have retained sufficient integrity. Some interventions on the Grand Canopy dictated by modern uses are reversible; the transformation of Niemeyer’s Collective Housing Prototype has seriously affected its architectural quality and erased the traces of the original design, but attempts have been made to restore the structure to its original conditions. However, the integrity of the property is extremely vulnerable, with the main threat coming from the precarious state of conservation of most buildings, which face serious stability problems due to the severe steel corrosion and the ageing of concrete.


    The layout and almost all buildings of the Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli have been preserved according to Niemeyer’s design. In most of the buildings of the complex, the structure defines their form and volume and is proudly exhibited to the audience. The main original structures of the International Fair complex, most of which are made of authentic materials, credibly reflect their period of construction and the quality of their execution. Despite the loss of interior finishes, fixtures and equipment, the transformation of the collective housing prototype into a hotel, and the interventions to the southern part of the Grand Canopy, the surviving attributes credibly convey the Outstanding Universal Value through the overall layout, the design of the structures, their sculptural conception, and the construction materials. The reflective pools and the hard landscape elements around the buildings are preserved according to Niemeyer’s design, the tropical gardens are still present and retain their “Brazilian spirit”. The International Fair complex in Tripoli still bears witness to an era of modernisation and social liberalisation in Lebanon and the Arab Near East.

    Protection and management requirements

    The Law N°274-10/03/2022 on the Reorganization of Rachid Karami International Fair is the main legal instrument that covers the property and includes basic protection mechanisms. The law sets out differentiated protection mechanisms for the rectangular area (800x500 metres) encompassing all Niemeyer designed structures and the extant part of the oval. Most of the buildings on the fairground need immediate stabilisation measures, maintenance, and structural repairs to preserve their integrity; the Conservation Management Plan that is being developed for the entire property should be finalised urgently to guarantee the conservation of its cultural and historical values in any future development processes.

    The long-term conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property will benefit from the recognition of its cultural value under the national legislation for heritage protection, beyond the 2022 special law. An inclusive management structure involving heritage protection authorities, professionals and academic organisations and civil society representatives can guarantee a shared vision for the future of the property and its long-term protection. The systematic application of a Heritage Impact Assessment approach and related mechanisms provides the framework for ensuring compatible conservation, rehabilitation and reuse of the Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli.

  4. Also inscribes the Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli, Lebanon, on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  5. Recommends that the State Party invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property to establish a Desired state of conservation and a programme of corrective measures for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  6. Also recommends that the State Party give urgent consideration to the following:
    1. Providing the exact geographical coordinates of the boundaries of the property,
    2. Considering, with the assistance of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, the establishment of a buffer zone as per paragraphs 103 to 105 of the Operational Guidelines to ensure an added layer of protection to the property,
    3. Developing detailed land-use and zoning guidelines for the planning of the immediate setting of the Rachid Karimi International Fair-Tripoli and of the portion of the oval within the property outside the nationally relevant “core zone”,
    4. Setting up a management structure for the property that also includes among its members representatives of the cultural heritage protection institutions, professionals and academic organisations and the civil society,
    5. Carrying out a geometric and architectural survey and a detailed condition assessment of Niemeyer’s structures as a knowledge basis for emergency stabilisation measures, conservation and structural rehabilitation interventions,
    6. Considering a digital project of the documentation preserved at the various publicly accessible archives, to promote research and ensure that the original project documentation is not lost due to disasters or accidents,
    7. Informing the World Heritage Centre of the intention to undertake or authorise any major projects which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, in line with paragraph 172 of Operational Guidelines,
    8. Developing and implementing a Heritage Impact Assessment for any project proposals that may have an impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property (including the “Knowledge and Innovation Centre” (KIC) project) and for the revision of the master plans of El-Mina and Tripoli;
  7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2024, a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session.
Decision Code
18 EXT.COM 5.1
Inscriptions on the World Heritage List, List of World Heritage in Danger
States Parties 1
Report of the Decisions adopted during the 18th extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee (UNESCO, 2023)
Context of Decision