1.         Old City of Sana'a (Yemen) (C 385)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1986

Criteria  (iv)(v)(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/385/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1990-2014)
Total amount approved: USD 101,997
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/385/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: 1988: USD 374,800, UNDP/UNESCO project in support of local staff training and fund-raising. 2004-2006: USD 60,000 for the Inventory of the historic city (Italian Funds-in-Trust)

Previous monitoring missions

1998, 1999, 2003: World Heritage Centre monitoring missions; 2003 to 2005, and 2010: World Heritage Centre and experts missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/385/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

The State Party submitted a report on 19 January 2014, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/385/documents. In 2013, due to the upheaval in the country, its report was submitted late and presented orally to the Committee.  Both reports underscore the dire economic and social crises that have afflicted the country since January 2011 but also suggest some progress, particularly since the end of 2012. Due to the unstable situation within Yemen, it has not yet been possible to organise the foreseen joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission.

In response to the World Heritage Committee’s specific requests, the State Party has reported in both reports as follows:

The State Party also reports on the following:

In March 2014, the State Party submitted an International Assistance Request to undertake the necessary field surveys and cartography in view of the preparation of the property’s Conservation Plan. In addition, ICCROM reports that it is working with the State Party on building long-term national capacity for conservation professionals through university programmes.

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

In spite of the extreme conditions that have prevailed over the past three years, some positive measures have been initiated and there has been a notable achievement in terms of the approval of a new Heritage Law and the Prime Minister’s Decree for the endorsement of the urgent executive plan for Sana’a and the one year moratorium on new construction within the property and on issuing any new contracts.

The support of GIZ has been instrumental for capacity building with GOPHCY, but the urgent need for further external support for conservation and for re-structuring the management of the property in order to allow more proactive work remains. The current project to rehabilitate water and sewage pipes for the city is clearly much needed to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants. It is nevertheless noted that this project appears to be implemented by the National Water and Sewerage Agency without the involvement of GOPHCY and without the appropriate risk mitigation measures and conservation-friendly approaches, and has already been tendered. This means that technical advice on the potential impacts of the project on structures of individual buildings and on embedded archaeology around the buildings appears currently not to be in place, and advice on how the project could be undertaken to minimise adverse impacts on cultural heritage and on the overall attributes of OUV is not provided. There is an urgent need for the management of the project to be re-structured to allow adequate technical advice from cultural heritage professionals. As no detailed plans have so far been supplied, these should be submitted at the earliest opportunity and a Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment should be undertaken before any detailed contracts are defined or let or any work commences.

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7B.7

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.58, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Acknowledges the continuing vulnerability of the property as a result of the extreme conditions that have prevailed in Sana’s over the past four years;
  4. Nonetheless welcomes the positive progress that has been possible and in particular the adoption of a new law in August 2013 on the protection of historic sites, monuments, cities and their urban and cultural heritage; the Prime Minister’s Decree for the endorsement of the urgent executive plan for Sana’a; the one year moratorium on new construction within the property and on issuing any new contracts; and notes the submission of an International Assistance Request to develop a Conservation Plan for the property;
  5. Also welcomes the support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) for capacity building work with the General Organisation for the Preservation of the Historic Cities of Yemen (GOHPCY); but acknowledges the urgent need of further resources to implement conservation measures and to re-structure the management of the property;
  6. Reiterates its call to the international community to support the State Party, in co-operation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, in any way possible for priority conservation, management measures and capacity building programmes;
  7. Expresses its concern at the apparent lack of engagement of GOPHCY in the major project to rehabilitate the water and sewage system being developed by the Sana’s Secretariat and on the potential negative structural impacts that this project could have on individual buildings and on archaeology;
  8. Requests the State Party, as a matter of urgency to supply full details of this project, including the Heritage Impact Assessment and appropriate risk mitigation measures, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any work commences; and recommends that GOPHCY is fully integrated into the structure of this project;
  9. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to evaluate the state of conservation of the property and identify measures needed to reverse the decay and ensure the conservation and protection of the property, as soon as the security situation allows;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.