1.         Tyre (Lebanon) (C 299)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1984

Criteria  (iii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/299/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1986-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 29,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/299/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

March 1995: UNESCO mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

 

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/299/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2002

World Bank Project

In the framework of a proposed Cultural Heritage and Urban Development Project, the World Bank commissioned an urban and an archaeological study for the site of Tyre. At the time of the drafting of this document, the World Heritage Centre had only received a copy of the final Archaeological Study, although a preliminary version of the Urban Study had been made available at the end of 2001.

 The Archaeological Study, which the Centre finds of very high quality, considers only areas currently under DGA (Direction General des Antiquites) direct responsibility (fenced areas), as per the Terms of Reference set by the World Bank. Therefore, neither the Old City nor the entire zone between the town of Safarand to the North, Ras Al Ain to the South and the hills to the East of Tyre (limits of the World Heritage site as confirmed by the Lebanese authorities by official letter at the time of inscription) were included in the scope of the assessment, despite their great archaeological potential.

The Study highlights the important conservation problems affecting the site and stresses the chronic lack of staff of the DGA. The consultants clarify that a Management Structure for the site needs to be established and estimates at US$ 50,000 per year the minimum budget for regular maintenance works, irrespective of staff costs and any particular intervention. Such a Management Structure would need to include between at least 15 professionals and technicians, as opposed to the only one inspector presently assigned to the site.

The Study recommends various conservation and presentation interventions in the archaeological areas for an amount of US$ 4,595,000, including US$ 840,000 for training activities. It is not clear who would benefit from this training, considering that the DGA has only one staff at the site, nor how the DGA would be able to offer attractive positions within its structure to the trainees at the end of the Project. As for the implementation of activities for such a considerable amount, considering the institutional weakness of the DGA, the consultants suggested that the latter be supported by external technical assistance.

Among the many activities envisaged, the Study does not contemplate the long-overdue preparation of a general archaeological mapping of the entire World Heritage site, which had been recommended by UNESCO as an absolute priority.

The Centre is expecting the final Urban Study to be able to provide its comments to the Lebanese authorities.

 

Urban Plan and Expropriation Decree

While the Urban Master Plan for Tyre has not yet been finalized, a discussion is under way in the Lebanese Parliament concerning the possible unfreeze of building permits on certain private areas adjacent to the Hippodrome of Al-Bass. These plots, which have been partially excavated by the DGA and have revealed important archaeological remains, had been the subject of a Presidential Expropriation Decree which unfortunately could not be executed owing to the war. At present, the owners claim substantial compensation, which the DGA is not able to provide. A possible solution would be the swap of these private plots with other areas on public land south of Tyre, although it is not quite clear which areas would be concerned.

 

New Highway Project

A new highway is being planned, which should cross the area of Tyre linking Beirut to the south of the country. The Centre, which has not yet received information on the exact foreseen location of this highway, has requested that a comprehensive Archaeological Study and EIA be carried out before a final decision is made, considering the high archaeological potential of the concerned area.

 

Natural reserve

Independent sources reported a Plan to develop, for tourism purposes, an area south of the old city of Tyre, but within the boundaries of the World Heritage site, where a Natural Reserve has been established. This area presents one of the most beautiful coastal environments of Lebanon as well as, due to its proximity to the site of Al Bass, a considerable potential cultural heritage interest. The World Heritage Centre has not received from the Lebanese authorities any information regarding such a Plan.

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 26 COM 21B.56

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Commends the State Party and the World Bank for the very important actions proposed in favour of the cultural heritage of Tyre;

2. Requests that attention be paid to the need to ensure the protection of all archaeological areas within the World Heritage site, and especially those currently not excavated and exposed to risk of encroachment;

3. Recommends that ways and means be explored to integrate into the scope of the World Bank Project, the preparation of a comprehensive archaeological map of the entire World Heritage site of Tyre, if necessary through applying for complementary international assistance from the World Heritage Fund;

4. Strongly encourages the State Party to make all possible efforts to ensure that the structure of the Directorate-General for Antiquities be permanently and considerably strengthened as a matter of urgency to ensure that the extraordinary opportunity provided by the World Bank Project to build capacities in the conservation and management of the cultural heritage not be missed;

5. Requests the State Party to provide assurances on the protection of the archaeological areas to be expropriated, and to submit, by 1 February 2003, areport on the status of the Highway Project, as well as on the alleged plan to develop the Natural Reserve, for examination at its 27th session in June/July 2003.