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Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah

Saudi Arabia
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Housing
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    High rate of decay of the historic houses

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Threats identified at the time of inscritpion of the property:
  • Management system not in place
  • Projects and development work with the potential to impact the authenticity of the property
  • High rate of decay of the historic houses
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 24 November 2015, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1361/documents. It provides information on the progress achieved in implementing the recommendations adopted by the Committee at the time of the property’s inscription on the World Heritage List, which included the following: establish the proposed management system, ensure effective presentation of the property, pay attention to material authenticity in ongoing conservation projects, reinforce the monitoring system for buildings, continue with community engagement, develop a database of all attributes relating to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and elaborate a comprehensive conservation strategy. The State Party reported on the following:

  • Approval of the new Saudi Antiquities, Museums and Urban Heritage Law in July 2014, immediately after inscription and reformation of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and national Heritage (SCTH);
  • Preparation, approval and enforcement since 2015 of new Historic Jeddah Building Regulation and Bylaws, which is the official tool for management, restoration and construction within the property and its buffer zone, and new regulations for shop fronts;
  • Reinforced coordination and monitoring mechanisms between the activities of SCTH and Historic Jeddah Municipality have been established;
  • Complete reorganisation of the structure of Historic Jeddah Municipality;
  • Completion of the inventory of all historic buildings within the property and of their condition;
  • Launch of several projects: large-scale street repaving, renovation of the central souqs, rehabilitation and restoration of buildings and mosques within the property and the buffer zone;
  • Community and grassroots initiatives progressively expanded under the coordination of the Umdah and thus contributing to the locals' sensitisation and to improving perceptions towards Historic Jeddah;
  • Development of a training programme for traditional Saudi handicrafts and construction skills.

The State Party concludes that, although much still needs to be done, the property’s inscription on the World Heritage List highly contributed to a change of approach at a political and social level, placing the urban and built heritage of Jeddah at the centre of urban policies.

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

The strong commitment of the State Party to the conservation and management of the property should be noted, as well as the fact that work has been undertaken on most of the recommendations made by the Committee at the time of inscription in 2014

It should be noted that the State Party has successfully made progress in various areas: namely the reinforcement of the legal and regulatory framework through the approval of the new Saudi Antiquities, Museums and Urban Heritage Law and of the Historic Jeddah Building Regulation and Bylaws; the strengthening of the management system with the involvement of international conservation experts within the SCTH staff and the reorganisation of the Historic Jeddah Municipality with the creation of 8 sub-zones for management purposes; the improvement of bidding regulations, now based on the most economically advantageous bid instead of the cheapest price; the setting up of clear intervention priorities, and cultural initiatives to stimulate public participation and to improve the attractiveness of Historic Jeddah.

The completion of the inventory of the historic buildings within the property and the buffer zone has allowed the identification of 608 historic buildings, of which 156 were not counted in the 1980s inventory. This work has also highlighted the advanced state of decay of several buildings (52 in bad condition and 38 collapsing) and revealed that 115 have collapsed since the first survey in the 1980s. What has so far not been undertaken is a detailed database of the attributes relating to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, such as the tower houses, other urban houses, the wikalas, mosques and Zawiyas (and not just the protected historic buildings) and  the spatial patterns of  urban forms and defined urban quarters.

The State Party has already undertaken important steps in order to address the most urgent cases, to ensure the retention of surviving structures and to change the perception towards the historic built heritage of Jeddah. Several renovation, rehabilitation and restoration projects have been or are being completed and many others are scheduled or envisaged, some of which to be carried out by the private sector.

However the seriousness of the situation requires additional efforts to develop a detailed conservation strategy, encompassing legal, financial, planning and technical measures to prevent further losses, to stabilise the buildings in precarious condition and eventually to reverse the trend.

Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) carried out in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties for the projects mentioned in the report would assist the State Party in achieving the primary goal of sustaining the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including the authenticity of its attributes, while enhancing its overall integrity and revitalising its social fabric.

The measures undertaken demonstrate the commitment of the State Party in ensuring the conservation and revitalisation of Historic Jeddah. Further measures are needed to strengthen this work, such as the development of detailed attributes of OUV and a conservation strategy with a timeline for reaching a position that has reversed the downward conservation trend. Furthermore, the integration of an urban approach into this processes to ensure the sustainable management and conservation of the property, especially the creation of the eight sub-zones, would ensure that the urban spaces which link the different buildings to each other be managed from a heritage perspective and in an integrated manner. This approach would contribute to the reinforcement of the protection of the attributes which carry the OUV.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.27
Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah (Saudi Arabia) (C 1361)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 8B.21, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Welcomes the significant achievements in many key areas for the effective protection, conservation and management of the property in response to the World Heritage Committee’s recommendations of 2014;
  4. Encourages the State Party to set out a detailed database of the attributes relating to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, such as the tower houses, other urban houses, the wikalas, mosques and Zawiyas (and not just the protected historic buildings) as well as the spatial patterns of urban forms and defined urban quarters;
  5. Recommends that the State Party continue its efforts through the elaboration of a comprehensive conservation strategy based on legal, financial, planning and technical measures that aims to achieve a position where the downward conservation trend has been reversed; and also encourages the involvement of owners, residents and the private sector in its implementation; and to submit this document to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  6. Also recommends that the urban and spatial dimension of the property be fully reflected in the policies, measures and tools adopted to ensure the conservation of the latter; using if necessary the approach carried by the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (2011);
  7. Further recommends that the State Party incorporate a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) approach into the regulatory and management framework and to carry out specific HIAs for all projects that may impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties;
  8. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 42nd session in 2018.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.27

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 8B.21, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Welcomes the significant achievements in many key areas for the effective protection, conservation and management of the property in response to the World Heritage Committee’s recommendations of 2014;
  4. Encourages the State Party to set out a detailed database of the attributes relating to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, such as the tower houses, other urban houses, the wikalas, mosques and Zawiyas (and not just the protected historic buildings) as well as the spatial patterns of urban forms and defined urban quarters;
  5. Recommends that the State Party continue its efforts through the elaboration of a comprehensive conservation strategy based on legal, financial, planning and technical measures that aims to achieve a position where the downward conservation trend has been reversed; and also encourages the involvement of owners, residents and the private sector in its implementation; and to submit this document to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  6. Also recommends that the urban and spatial dimension of the property be fully reflected in the policies, measures and tools adopted to ensure the conservation of the latter; using if necessary the approach carried by the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (2011);
  7. Further recommends that the State Party incorporate a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) approach into the regulatory and management framework and to carry out specific HIAs for all projects that may impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties;
  8. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 42nd session in 2018.
Report year: 2016
Saudi Arabia
Date of Inscription: 2014
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .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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