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Historic Town of Zabid

Yemen
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Housing
  • Land conversion
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Serious degradation of the city’s heritage (many houses and the ancient souq are in an alarming deterioration state);
  • Large percentage of the city's houses replaced by inappropriate concrete buildings;
  • Large sections of the city’s open spaces have been privatized, either illegally or informally and more than 30% of these built-up;
  • Lack of conservation measures and supportive development
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Serious deterioration of the built heritage (a high percentage of the residential houses being replaced by concrete and multi-storey buildings);
  • The remaining  houses in the city are rapidly deteriorating, due to the prevailing low income of the inhabitants;
  • Since the souq activities have been transferred outside the city, the ancient souq is almost empty and free from any type of activity and the shops are falling apart;
  • The traditional economic role of the city has vanished;
  • The city in general, is lacking any conservation and rehabilitation strategies.
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted 2011, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4357

Corrective Measures for the property

Adopted 2007, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1282

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
July 2014 (Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4357
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2014

Total amount granted: USD 14,000 from the Italian Funds-in-Trust and the France-UNESCO Co-operation Agreement.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 9 (from 1994-2014)
Total amount approved : 188,997 USD
Missions to the property until 2014**

2002 and 2003: international expertise; December 2004: World Heritage Centre mission; January 2007: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission; January 2009: World Heritage Centre mission; January 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 31 January 2014, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/611/documents. The State Party emphasizes the extremely difficult political, security and socio-economic climate that has existed over the past three years. In spite of these constraints, the State Party has reported some positive steps forward. In response to the World Heritage Committee’s specific requests, the State Party reported as follows:

  • Provision of Adequate Resources : External donors have not fulfilled their pledges, and this has had a major impact on the availability of resources and on overall development and cultural heritage protection. Yemen is in urgent need of support from the international community and the State Party would welcome the launching of an international campaign to provide financial and technical support.
  • Law of Protection of historic sites, monuments, cities and their urban and cultural heritage : A law on the Protection of historic sites, monuments, cities and their urban and cultural heritage was officially adopted in August 2013. Bylaw regulations are prepared and will be reviewed and approved in the coming months. Standards, measurements and guidelines for the maintenance, restoration and rehabilitation of the historic cities, sites and buildings are being drafted, and in the near future will be revised, approved and enforced.
  • Clarification of boundaries and modification of buffer zone : The State Party reported that the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY) had submitted last year the requested information on the definition of the boundaries at the time of inscription, and on a modification of the buffer zone however, the World Heritage Centre replied to the State Party asking for clearer boundaries of the property and the buffer zone and for other technical requirements. To date, no up-dated information has been received.
  • Other measures : The State Party also reported that:

- The Hodeida governor and local authorities in Zabid have prepared an action plan which should soon be submitted to the relevant ministries for review, fund raising and approval. 

- Key members of the Zabid development forum have participated in a planning workshop organized as part of a new German Agency for International Cooperation project (GIZ), contributing ideas for effective community involvement.

- Work on Infrastructure projects such as stone road paving, lighting and new electricity networks are being progressed by SFD, the electricity authority, and by GOPHCY. 

- The Ministry of Culture signed an agreement with the ARC-WH in Bahrain in August 2013, to assist with measures to improve conservation in Zabid. A pilot urban and architectural conservation project amounting to USD 500 000 will begin in the near future.

The State Party acknowledges that a major issue is the lack of cooperation of Zabid inhabitants with conservation initiatives. This is manifest in the increasing number of building violations. It is suggested that an awareness program is needed in order to provide a better understanding of the overall regeneration process and its benefits. 

In March 2014, the State Party submitted an International Assistance Request to undertake awareness-raising activities aiming at rallying the local community around the values of the property and the requirements for its conservation and management.

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 Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

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.

It is axiomatic that sustainable progress will only be achieved with adequate resources and the support of the majority of Zabid’s inhabitants.

The positive assistance of GIZ and the World Heritage Category 2 Centre in Bahrain (ARC-WH) should also be noted, but the wider support of the international community is urgently needed if the progress that has been made is to be built on in order to achieve sustainable results. The importance of undertaking pilot interventions that showcase how the improvement of the inhabitants’ housing conditions can be compatible with conservation needs should also be stressed.

Since Zabid was inscribed on the World Heritage List in Danger in 2000, it has only just managed to stem the downward trend of deterioration and still has not managed to achieve progress to a sustainable level.

It would be extremely unfortunate if the enormous efforts that have been put into trying to move regeneration and conservation forward were to falter now.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7A.13
Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) (C 611)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7A.28, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Acknowledges with great concern, the extreme conditions that have prevailed in Zabid over the past three years and the way this has hindered external donors from fulfilling their pledges, and notes the major impact that this had had on the availability of resources and on progress with regeneration and conservation projects;
  4. Also notes with concern the lack of support for conservation initiatives from some inhabitants of Zabid;
  5. 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 and further notes the submission of an International Assistance Request to develop local awareness-raising activities for the conservation of the property;
  6. Also welcomes the continuing support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the proposed collaboration of the World Heritage Category 2 centre (ARC-WH) in Bahrain and calls on the wider international community to offer what support it can to allow progress in halting deterioration and violations to be sustained and over time to allow sustainable development to be achieved;
  7. Requests the State Party to submit revised information on the definition of the boundaries at the time of inscription, and to finalise the delineation of the buffer zone and submit a minor boundary modification proposal by 1 February 2015 for review by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015,
  8. Also requests the State Party to pursue all necessary efforts to raise the awareness of local communities on the values of the property and the importance of their engagement in its preservation;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
  10. Decides to retain the Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
38 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (retained sites)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-14/38.COM/7A and WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 38 COM 7A.14)
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 38 COM 7A.15)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 38 COM 7A.31)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.34)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 38 COM 7A.21)
  • Colombia, Los Katíos National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.32)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.35)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 38 COM 7A.36)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.37)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.38)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.39)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.40)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 38 COM 7A.41)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 38 COM 7A.1)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.43)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 38 COM 7A.16)
  • Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 38 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 38 COM 7A.33)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 38 COM 7A.28)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 38 COM 7A.2)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 38 COM 7A.3)
  • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Decision 38 COM 7A.4)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 38 COM 7A.44)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 38 COM 7A.24)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 38 COM 7A.25)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 38 COM 7A.45)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 38 COM 7A.5)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 38 COM 7A.20)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 38 COM 7A.22)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.46)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 38 COM 7A.18)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 38 COM 7A.29)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 38 COM 7A.26)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 38 COM 7A.19)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.30)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 38 COM 7A.23)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 38 COM 7A.13)
Draft Decision:  38 COM 7A.13

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7A,

2.  Recalling Decision 37 COM 7A.28, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),

3.  Acknowledges with great concern, the extreme conditions that have prevailed in Zabid over the past three years and the way this has hindered external donors from fulfilling their pledges, and note the major impact that this had had on the availability of resources and on progress with  regeneration and conservation projects;

4.  Also notes with concern the lack of support for conservation initiatives from some inhabitants of Zabid;

5.  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 and further notes the submission of an International Assistance Request to develop local awareness-raising activities for the conservation of the property;

6.  Also welcomes the continuing support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the proposed collaboration of the World Heritage Category 2 centre (ARC-WH) in Bahrain and calls on the wider international community to offer what support it can to allow progress in halting deterioration and violations to be sustained and over time to allow sustainable development to be achieved;

7.  Requests the State Party to submit revised information on the definition of the boundaries at the time of inscription, and to finalise the delineation of the buffer zone and submit a minor boundary modification proposal by 1 February 2015 for review by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015,

8.  Also requests the State Party to pursue all necessary efforts to raise the awareness of local communities on the values of the property and the importance of their engagement in its preservation;

9.  Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015; 

10.  Decides to retain the Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Report year: 2014
Yemen
Date of Inscription: 1993
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2000-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2014) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 38COM (2014)
Exports

* : 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.


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