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Historic Town of Zabid

Yemen
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Financial resources
  • Housing
  • Human resources
  • 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 state of deterioration)
  • 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
  • Reduction in support and resources arising from political and socio-economic disturbances
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;
  • Threats arising from the armed conflict in Yemen.
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2016

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 2016
Requests approved: 9 (from 1994-2014)
Total amount approved : 188,997 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**

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 2016

On 29 March 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, a summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/611/documents/.

The State Party reports that, in addition to ongoing deterioration of built heritage and general decline, the property continues to be affected by political and socio-economic disturbances, and by armed conflict which broke out in 2015.

Despite these challenges, and lack of funds, the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY), in coordination with the UNESCO Doha Office and ICCROM Athar, has participated in workshops in Amman, Cairo and Tunis focused on building capability to respond to the effects of the continuing crisis and conflicts. An expert meeting has identified urgent action to address the impact of the conflict on Yemeni heritage, but the plans arising from this work are yet to be implemented.

The State Party has acknowledged ICCROM, the German Agency for International Corporation (GIZ) and UNESCO for their efforts in supporting Yemeni capacity building and skills development, particularly regarding urgent intervention to preserve the heritage during conflict, in circumstances where international experts are unable to visit Yemen. 

The State Party remains unable to implement the International Assistance Request on “Community participation programme for better conservation process” (IA2014-2664) because of the current situation but intends to initiate it as soon as possible with local resources.

The State Party has indicated that international support continues to be essential for the protection of Yemeni heritage and to facilitate the preparation of a plan for post-conflict conservation, measures, protection processes and maintenance. The State Party therefore proposes that an international conference should be convened to promote the safeguarding of cultural heritage, to highlight recent destruction, to prepare technical proposals and raise awareness of the need for financial support for implementation of the measures needed to necessary to protect and conserve Yemen’s cultural heritage.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

The security situation in Yemen continues to prevent both effective heritage management and physical conservation works within the property. Future donor support is necessarily constrained unless and until the security situation improves. In July 2015, UNESCO organized an Expert Meeting which elaborated an Emergency Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Yemen’s Cultural heritage, with short, medium and long term actions some of which can be conducted by the State Party with remote technical support by UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies, but which would require immediate financial support.

The Ministry of Culture has been prevented from effective exercise of its responsibilities for the protection of cultural heritage, particularly buildings within the boundaries of the property, in response to Committee Decisions 38 COM 7A.13 (Doha, 2014) and 39 COM 7A.37 (Bonn, 2015).

Owing to the security situation it has also not been possible to make progress with the proposed Action Plan arising from the draft National Strategy for the Preservation of the Historic Cities, Sites and Monuments 2016 – 2020, which was prepared in collaboration with GIZ. The strategic objectives of this national strategy align with elements of the ‘Urgent Action Plan’ and of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) previously adopted by the Committee. It is highly desirable that this Action Plan be prepared taking into account the new developments related to the conflict, the UNESCO Emergency Action Plan of July 2015, reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies and implemented. However, without both political support and substantial allocation of public-sector resources, implementation of the Action Plan may prove challenging.

While the State Party has clarified the boundaries of the property at the time of inscription, it is yet to finalize the buffer zone or submit a minor boundary modification request.

The State Party has previously reported that Bylaw regulations to support the Law of Protection of historic sites, monuments, cities and their urban and cultural heritage that was adopted in 2013 would be prepared but there appears to have been no substantive implementation of these statutes.

For understandable reasons, no substantive progress has been made towards the DSOCR, but the State Party has expressed a commitment to this process, including proposed involvement of the Higher Ministerial Coordination Committee for Zabid.

There is an increasingly urgent need to reverse decline in the city and to ensure that the valuable work undertaken by GOPHCY, GIZ, UNESCO and other parties to date can continue. It would be desirable for a Reactive Monitoring mission to visit the property and consider progress with the corrective measures and to advise on the proposed Action Plan as soon as the situation allows.

Pending improvements in the security situation, it would be appropriate for the international community to continue to express its support for the State Party and GOPHCY, and where possible to offer technical proposals, practical and financial support.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7A.23
Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) (C 611)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 7A.13, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014) and 39 COM 7A.37 adopted at its 39th Session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Expresses its concern at the recent damage caused to the cultural heritage of Yemen as a result of escalating armed conflict, and that the Historic City of Zabid continues to be subject to significant threats from the ongoing lack of organisational support and material resources for physical conservation projects;
  4. Acknowledges the efforts of the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY), other national entities, the local authorities, and the community of Zabid to protect and conserve the property despite the very difficult conditions in the city;
  5. Notes with regret that, owing to the security situation in Yemen, it has not been possible to progress with the draft ‘National Strategy for the Preservation of the Historic Cities, Sites and Monuments 2016 – 2020’ nor to prepare a complementary Action Plan and requests the State Party to ensure that the Action Plan, when prepared, should address the current situation and include provisions for conservation of damaged buildings, local community awareness, and should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  6. Welcomes the continuing support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) for Yemeni cultural heritage;
  7. Calls on the international community to provide financial support for the implementation of the Emergency Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Yemen’s cultural heritage, adopted at the UNESCO Expert meeting in July 2015;
  8. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, once the security situation has improved, to assess current conditions at the property, to consider progress with the corrective measures and to advise on the proposed Action Plan;
  9. Reiterates its request to the State Party to provide to the World Heritage Centre with details of the buffer zone and other technical requirements as requested and to submit a minor boundary modification proposal by 1 February 2017, for review by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, 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 41st session in 2017;
  11. Decides to retain Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
40 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/16/40.COM/7A, WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add and WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 40 COM 7A.26)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 40 COM 7A.27)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 40 COM 7A.32)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 40 COM 7A.1)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.34)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 40 COM 7A.2)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.35)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.36)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.37)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.38)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.39)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.40)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.41)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 40 COM 7A.9)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.43)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 40 COM 7A.28)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.33)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 40 COM 7A.48)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 40 COM 7A.10)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 40 COM 7A.11)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 40 COM 7A.12)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 40 COM 7A.13)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 40 COM 7A.44)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 40 COM 7A.6)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 40 COM 7A.7)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 40 COM 7A.45)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 40 COM 7A.14)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 40 COM 7A.15)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 40 COM 7A.3)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 40 COM 7A.4)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.46)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 40 COM 7A. 30)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 40 COM 7A.49)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 40 COM 7A.16)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 40 COM 7A.17)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 40 COM 7A.18)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 40 COM 7A.19)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 40 COM 7A.20)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 40 COM 7A.21)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 40 COM 7A.8)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 40 COM 7A.31)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.47)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.50)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 40 COM 7A.5)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 40 COM 7A.23)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 40 COM 7A.24)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 40 COM 7A.25).
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7A.23

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 7A.13, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014) and 39 COM 7A.37 adopted at its 39th Session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Expresses its concern at the recent damage caused to the cultural heritage of Yemen as a result of escalating armed conflict, and that the Historic City of Zabid continues to be subject to significant threats from the ongoing lack of organisational support and material resources for physical conservation projects;
  4. Acknowledges the efforts of the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY), other national entities, the local authorities, and the community of Zabid to protect and conserve the property despite the very difficult conditions in the city;
  5. Notes with regret that, owing to the security situation in Yemen, it has not been possible to progress with the draft ‘National Strategy for the Preservation of the Historic Cities, Sites and Monuments 2016 – 2020’ nor to prepare a complementary Action Plan and requests the State Party to ensure that the Action Plan, when prepared, should address the current situation and include provisions for conservation of damaged buildings, local community awareness, and should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  6. Welcomes the continuing support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) for Yemeni cultural heritage;
  7. Calls on the international community to provide financial support for the implementation of the Emergency Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Yemen’s cultural heritage, adopted at the UNESCO Expert meeting in July 2015;
  8. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, once the security situation has improved, to assess current conditions at the property, to consider progress with the corrective measures and to advise on the proposed Action Plan;
  9. Reiterates its request to the State Party to provide to the World Heritage Centre with details of the buffer zone and other technical requirements as requested and to submit a minor boundary modification proposal by 1 February 2017, for review by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, 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 41st session in 2017;
  11. Decides to retain Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2016
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 (2016) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
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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