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Historic Town of Zabid

Factors affecting the property in 2002*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Housing
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Relative humidity
  • Solid waste
  • Other Threats:

    Lack of conservation measures

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Renovations seriously threatening the authenticity and integrity of the Great Mosque
  • No system for the evacuation of waste water
  • Increase of the permanent humidity of the ground, posing the threat of erosion to the brick walls 
  • Need for a safeguarding and urbanism plan
  • Lack of traditional materials (noura bricks)
  • Lack of coordination between the activities of the different actors and donors.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2002
Requests approved: 6 (from 1994-2001)
Total amount approved : 114,167 USD
Missions to the property until 2002**

November 1999: UNESCO mission;  May 2001: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission ; September-October 2001: World Heritage Centre mission ; February 2002: World Hertiage Centre experts mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2002

The condition of the Town remains unchanged, but the work on the drainage system, the cleaning and creation of a refuse collection system and the restoration of the Souk and certain monuments are planned and should commence in May/June 2002.

The urban conservation plan is being studied by the Ministry of Public Works and urban studies and by the Dutch project UCHP. The study is progressing very slowly due to the delay experienced in the inventory of the construction work that is only partially completed.

Concerning the urban plan and rehabilitation operations, in February 2002, architect restorers were sent on mission to Zabid by the World Heritage Centre to study the state of the monuments, the urban typology and the built heritage.  The following recommendations were made: the mission insisted upon the urgent need to rapidly finalise the urban conservation plan and the need to define the regulations in order to proceed with the conservation/rehabilitation operations of the historic tissue, the modalities for the use of public space and in particular the standards concerning control of demolitions, reconstructions and the management of existing buildings.

The lack of the traditional brick (noura) necessary for the restoration and rehabilitation work in the Zabid region is another constraint.  In 1999, the Centre assisted the authorities to build a traditional brick oven.  For several reasons, and specifically an accident causing the death of a man, the oven was never exploited.

Consequently, the mission recommended: 1) the immediate dispatch of experts to the site by the Centre to formulate a preliminary urban conservation plan to serve as a basis for the final plan and to define the regulations and preliminary orientations for the future urban regulations of the Historic Town; 2) immediate exploitation, after control of the material, of the existing brick oven and the construction of two other ovens financed by UCHP (Dutch project), to respond to the  needs of rehabilitation activities which will very shortly recommence.

Concerning the institutional framework, the delay incurred in the implementation of the studies, of “quick-Scan”, the brick oven and the urban conservation plan stem from internal difficulties at the GOPHCY (General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities of Yemen).  The work of this Organization was interrupted for several months by transfer of high-level personnel and established teams, impairing its capabilities in carrying out its role as relay for the Centre and coordinator responsible for operations at site.  Fortunately, the situation has improved and the Centre hopes to install a better and more efficient cooperation with the GOPHCY.

The World Heritage Centre will organize an expert mission during May 2002 to bring together all the partners involved in the safeguarding of Zabid and define with them clear modalities to coordinate actions and the division of tasks and draw up a clear timetable for the implementation of the activities.  At the same time, the Centre shall assign a consultant for a preliminary study of the urban conservation plan.  This plan should foresee the immediate implementation of the first reconstruction activities prior to the commencement of the other planned works.  This study will be financed from the World Heritage Centre Netherlands Funds-in-Trust.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2002
26 COM 21A.16
Old City of Zabid (Yemen)
The World Heritage Committee,

1. Recommends the Yemeni authorities to strengthen, in close consultation with the Centre, the coordination of all efforts for the safeguarding of the Historic Town of Zabid;

2. Requests the Centre to finalize the outline of the Urban Conservation Plan and technical specifications for the repair of residential buildings, in view of a clear distribution of roles and responsibilities among the responsible Yemeni authorities and the international community of donors;

3. Encourages the State Party to establish at the site a Technical Unit, to act as a partner for the local authorities, UNESCO and other international players in the finalization and implementation of the Urban Conservation Plan;

4. Decides to retain the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Committee may wish to examine at the time of its session additional information which may be available following the May 2002 mission, and adopt a decision as appropriate.

Report year: 2002
Date of Inscription: 1993
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2000-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 26COM (2002)

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.