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Historic Town of Zabid

Yemen
Factors affecting the property in 2011*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Housing
  • Land conversion
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Serious degradation of the city’s heritage (many houses and the ancient souq are in an alarming deterioration state)

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 developments
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
Corrective Measures for the property

In its Decision 31 COM 7A.19 (Christchurch, 2007), the World Heritage Committee defined the measures to be taken urgently to reverse the decline (https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1282

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
As set out in Decision 31 COM 7A.19: “adequate legal and institutional framework set up in one year (2008); the physical degradation stopped immediately and reversed within two years (2009)”. A revised timeframe is proposed in the draft decision below.
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2011

Total amount provided to the property: USD 10,000 from the Italian Funds-in-Trust; USD 4,000 from the France-UNESCO Co-operation Agreement.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2011
Requests approved: 8 (from 1994-2004)
Total amount approved : 159,167 USD
Missions to the property until 2011**

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 2011

The State Party submitted a progress report on 20 February 2011. A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission visited the property from 18-24 January 2011. Its report is available online at the following web address: https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM. The mission verified that the situation in Zabid has progressed positively in the following areas, which the State Party report also mentions:

a) Institutional and Legal Framework

i) Political support and commitment

Overall the State Party maintains that progress continues to be made, thanks to the efforts of the SFD/GIZ (Social Fund for Development/German International Cooperation) project, improved stakeholder coordination, public sector efforts lead by GOPHCY (General Organisation for the Preservation of Historic Cities) in Zabid, and the SFD’s continuous investment in civic projects. A high profile Inter-Ministerial Commission has now been established, while another Commission is also proposed, with its members to be appointed from citizen interest groups (arising from the Conservation Plan hearing process).

ii) Finalizing and implementing the Conservation Plan

The Zabid Conservation Plan for the property (part of the overall Zabid Development Plan), was formally adopted in December 2010. A number of seminars have been organised with selected groups from the city in order to get their support and raise awareness of the importance of the plan for the future development of the city.

The new Conservation Law, which is to provide the needed framework for the overall restoration and building control programmes, is scheduled to be presented to Parliament after the April 2011 elections. This should help to stop violations which the Mission noted were still happening – such as building on public open spaces.

b) Drafting and approving a Management Plan

The Mission reports that the GOPHCY Zabid branch has established a “first rate” management system with well-trained staff, regular monitoring protocols and a process for issuing building permits. The enforcement of building control has been an on-going problem, but improvements have been made in the past year, and the new Conservation Law is expected to further ameliorate the situation. The Management Plan is currently under preparation, and is expected to be completed by September 2011.

c) Conservation projects

Field work has progressed, and some 250 houses (160 according to the Mission) have been variously repaired and/or restored, as well as several mosques and public buildings. There is a noticeable stopping of concrete based constructions. The GOPHCY ‘impoverished’ home restoration projects has been launched, with six historical buildings restored and six planned for implementation this year. Training and capacity building have been integrated in the conservation projects, resulting in an increased qualification and employment of local personnel.

A street-paving project has been launched and four new paving segments are scheduled by 2012 (covering an area of 42,600 square meters). This includes renewing the infrastructures, repairing the adjacent walls and stabilising infringement into open public spaces.The Mission noted the need to consider alternative street paving materials that are locally procured which would support local industry and avoid the current costly import of stone. It also noted that as a part of the paving project, it is still necessary to research the potential effects of traffic vibrations, street cleaning and rain impact on the historic wall surfaces, as well as the potential to recycle water from roadways.

The souq rehabilitation and revitalisation project has included 50 shops, and the proposed rehabilitation of another 10 shops and two mosques under the Ministry of “Awqaf”. A contract has been let for the replacement of 110 cement concrete walls with traditional brick material in the historic town. Capacity has been strengthened in restoration techniques and traditional crafts, including a national level training programme sponsored by the World Heritage Centre thanks to the Netherlands Funds-in-Trust and organized by CATS/GOPHCY (Centre for Architectural Training and Studies) in Sana’a in July 2010.

At the same time both the State Party and the Mission acknowledge issues that remain to be addressed if the overall decline is to be completely reversed. These include matters such as the defining of clear regulations for what is permitted and what constitutes a violation, providing adequate resources to allow the Heritage Protection Bill to be finalized, as well as defining a clearly budgeted strategy, and setting out rules for house owners and inhabitants. The Mission also identified the following needs:

· Develop a viable Business Plan with the business community.

· Launch Management Plan initiatives, including a Risk Plan;

· Further develop guidelines, codes of practice and sample of design and construction standards for architectural treatments and energy efficient living conditions;

· Undertake a ‘local views study’ to influence new development.

The Mission further recommends technical assistance for research into building materials, conservation methods and modern engineering needs. This research would include assessment of the feasibility and logistics of using traditional brick (not cement products) in construction. GIZ has commenced experimentation with the introduction of kilns to promote the use of brick as a preferred alternative to the now popular use of concrete block construction.

Finally, the Mission re-considered the time frame for the implementation of the corrective measures in association with the State Party and defined a Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the World Heritage List in Danger.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2011

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the mission was able to report positive outcomes in implementing some of the corrective measures to halt what seemed like irreversible decline at the time the property was placed on the Danger List. The majority of recommended actions proposed following the 2007 mission are being implemented, at varying rates, relating to their priority and in response to local circumstances. Only one identified action of ‘High Priority’ has not started – the production of guidance texts and drawings for new buildings within the core of the historic city, while some proposed activities of ‘Moderate Priority’ are yet to commence.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the degree of political commitment is now impressive and this allied to support from GIZ is leading to the emergence of dynamic programmes that are progressively becoming sustainable.

Two of the urgent and sensitive issues still to be addressed are finding credible solutions to the problems of recent violations, and creating a fund for financial compensation to correct past irregularities, such as removing unauthorised structures built in the past. These solutions will need to be supported by all the key stakeholders.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2011
35 COM 7A.23
Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) (C 611)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7A.21, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Recognizes the continued progress that has been made in generating support for the conservation of the property in particular from the German International Cooperation (GIZ), and the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and encourages the State Party to continue to give the optimum support to the regeneration and conservation of Zabid;

4. Notes the progress with finalizing and implementing the Conservation Plan and the development of a Management Plan as well as the progress with conservation work and street paving;

5. Requests the State Party to implement fully the recommendations of the 2011 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission;

6. Adopts the following Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the World Heritage List in Danger:

a) Finalisation of the Management Plan and 2 years effective implementation,

b) 2 years effective implementation of the Conservation Plan, encompassing the legal rules and technical regulations for the preservation of the cultural heritage and landscape of the property and its setting,

c) Adoption of the new Conservation Law,

d) Adoption of regulations for new construction and infrastructure within the property and its buffer zone,

e) Improvement in brick manufacturing technology through a programme of consultation, research and experimentation,

f) State of conservation of traditional buildings and their architectural features stabilised and necessary maintenance implemented,

g) Effective regulations, accepted by the community, put in place to halt violations,

h) Protection and enhancement of public spaces and of green private and public areas,

i) Professional staff and contractors having adequate capacities to carry out their work,

j) Risk management strategy in place;

7. Approves the extension timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures as set out in the mission report until July 2014;

8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2012, a progress report on the above for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012;

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

35 COM 8C.2
Establishment of the World Heritage List in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-11/35.COM/7A, WHC-11/35.COM/7A.Add and WHC-11/35.COM/7A.Add.Corr),

2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 35 COM 7A.24)
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 35 COM 7A.25)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 35 COM 7A.15)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 35 COM 7A.1)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 35 COM 7A.32)
  • Colombia, Los Katios National Park (Decision 35 COM 7A.16)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 35 COM 7A.2)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 35 COM 7A.3)
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 35 COM 7A.4)
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 35 COM 7A.5)
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 35 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 35 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 35 COM 7A.8)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 35 COM 7A.19)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 35 COM 7A.9)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 35 COM 7A.29)
  • Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 35 COM 7A.30)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 35 COM 7A.20)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 35 COM  7A.21)
  • Islamic Republic of Iran, Bam and its Cultural Landscape (Decision 35 COM 7A.26)
  • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Decision 35 COM 7A.22)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 35 COM 7A.10)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 35 COM 7A.11)
  • Pakistan, Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Decision 35 COM 7A.27)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 35 COM 7A.33)
  • Philippines, Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Decision 35 COM 7A.28)
  • Senegal, Niokolo Koba National Park (Decision 35 COM  7A.12)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 35 COM 7A.31)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (Decision 35 COM 7A.18)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 35 COM 7A.17)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 35 COM 7A.14)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 35 COM 7A.34)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 35 COM 7A.23)
Draft Decision: 35 COM 7A.23

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7A.21, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Recognizes the continued progress that has been made in generating support for the conservation of the property in particular from the German International Cooperation (GIZ), and the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and encourages the State Party to continue to give the optimum support to the regeneration and conservation of Zabid;

4. Notes the progress with finalizing and implementing the Conservation Plan and the development of a Management Plan as well as the progress with conservation work and street paving;

5. Requests the State Party to implement fully the recommendations of the 2011 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission;

6. Adopts the following Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the World Heritage List in Danger:

a) Finalisation of the Management Plan and 2 years effective implementation,

b) 2 years effective implementation of the Conservation Plan, encompassing the legal rules and technical regulations for the preservation of the cultural heritage and landscape of the property and its setting,

c) Adoption of the new Conservation Law,

d) Adoption of regulations for new construction and infrastructure within the property and its buffer zone,

e) Improvement in brick manufacturing technology through a programme of consultation, research and experimentation,

f) The state of conservation of traditional buildings and their architectural features is stabilised and necessary maintenance is being implemented,

g) Effective regulations, accepted by the community, are put in place to halt violations,

h) Protection and enhancement of public spaces and of green private and public areas, 

i) Professional staff and contractors have adequate capacities to carry out their work,

j) Risk management strategy in place;

7. Approves the extension timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures as set out in the mission report until July 2014;

8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2012,a progress report on the above for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012;

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

Report year: 2011
Yemen
Date of Inscription: 1993
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2000-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 35COM (2011)
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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