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Historic Town of Zabid

Yemen
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • 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

Not yet identified

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2017

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 2017
Requests approved: 9 (from 1994-2014)
Total amount approved : 188,997 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

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 2017

On 20 March 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/611/documents/, in which the following matters are reported:

  • The Historic Town of Zabid remains threatened by armed conflict, adverse economic conditions and lack of resources for conservation projects. Even provision of basic needs for inhabitants is challenging. Recent damage includes destruction of an agriculture research centre, close to the old city, resulting in damage to historic buildings ;
  • Despite these challenges, the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY) is implementing a number of conservation initiatives, including:
    • Restoration works in Alashaair mosque and paving the southern gate area of the old city, with funding support from the Social Fund for Development (SFD),
    • Improvements to shop facades and passage roofs in the souq, funded by the German Development Fund,
    • Follow-up and inspection of building activities and removal of two building violations,
    • A heritage and environmental awareness program for the local community ;
  • GOPHCY has a trained a core team, which could undertake necessary studies and documentation as well as emergency responses to damaged heritage properties, if support were available.

The State Party has communicated regularly with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies regarding conservation processes, but has indicated that there is an urgent need for support to finance emergency planning and capacity building. While thanking the German Government for its support, the State Party notes that, owing to the security situation in the country, the support of the German Agency for international Cooperation (GIZ) has been discontinued. The State Party has also acknowledged support received from ICCROM Sharjah and the UNESCO Office in Doha.

The State Party has extended an open invitation for a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to evaluate the state of conservation of the property and identify measures needed to reverse current deterioration of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

Although the State Party has previously provided the World Heritage Centre with details of the proposed boundaries of the Historic Town of Zabid, a formal request for a boundary modification, including a buffer zone, is yet to be submitted.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The security situation in Yemen, in combination with a lack of organisational support and resources, continues to prevent both effective heritage management and physical conservation works within the property. However, the efforts of both GOPHCY and the Zabid community, in damage assessment, documentation, first-aid interventions, capacity building and continuous communication with the World Heritage Centre, UNESCO Doha and the Advisory Bodies, are commendable.

Support from the international community remains essential for capacity building to conduct adequate preventive and restoration measures at the property. Owing to the security situation, it has not been possible to make progress with the preparation of a management plan, nor the 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 the German Agency for International Corporation (GIZ). Although future financial support is necessarily constrained unless and until the security situation improves, it is urgent to explore means to provide the needed financial and technical support to safeguard the property. Therefore, 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 and practical support.

It remains desirable for a reactive monitoring mission to visit the property in order to advise on short-term repair works and to identify in collaboration with GOPHCY both the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and associated corrective measures, as soon as the security situation allows.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7A.51
Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) (C 611)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.43, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Expresses its continuing concern at the recent damage caused to the cultural heritage of the Historic Town of Zabid as a result of ongoing armed conflict, and that the property continues to be threatened by the current security situation, ongoing social change and continuing lack of organisational support and resources for both heritage management and physical conservation;
  4. Commends the State Party for its communication with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies and acknowledges the efforts of the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY), the local authorities, and the community of Zabid to protect and conserve the property despite the very difficult conditions;
  5. Welcomes the open invitation for a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to advise on short-term repair and conservation works, and to contribute to the development of a set of corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation, as well as the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), as soon as the security situation in Yemen has improved;
  6. Urges all parties involved in the conflict to refrain from any further action that would cause damage to the cultural heritage of Yemen and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and to fulfil their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of properties on the World Heritage List and those included in the Tentative List of Yemen, and encourages all concerned stakeholders to unite for the preservation of cultural heritage in Yemen;
  7. Requests the State Party to continue dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in all restoration and/or reconstruction processes to ensure the safety of the inhabitants and the respect of international conservation standards;
  8. Reiterates its previous calls for the international community to provide technical and financial support, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund, 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, including funding for capacity building and first-aid restoration and protection measures, and calls on the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to continue providing the State Party with technical assistance and support where needed;
  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 2018, for review by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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;
  11. Decides to retain Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
41 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add and WHC/17/41.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 41 COM 7A.54)
    • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 41 COM 7A.55)
    • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 41 COM 7A.2)
    • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 41 COM 7A.23)
    • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.4)
    • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 41 COM 7A.24)
    • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.6)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.7)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.8)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.9)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.10)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.11)
    • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 41 COM 7A.32)
    • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.3)
    • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.18)
    • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 41 COM 7A.33)
    • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.34)
    • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 41 COM 7A.35)
    • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 41 COM 7A.36)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 41 COM 7A.37)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 41 COM 7A.38)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 41 COM 7A.39)
    • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 41 COM 7A.40)
    • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 41 COM 7A.41)
    • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 41 COM 7A.14)
    • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 41 COM 7A.28)
    • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 41 COM 7A.29)
    • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 41 COM 7A.30)
    • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 41 COM 7A.56)
    • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 41 COM 7A.15)
    • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 41 COM 7A.42)
    • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 41 COM 7A.43)
    • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 41 COM 7A.25)
    • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 41 COM 7A.26)
    • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.16)
    • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 41 COM 7A.21)
    • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 41 COM 7A.19)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 41 COM 7A.44)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 41 COM 7A.45)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 41 COM 7A.46)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 41 COM 7A.47)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 41 COM 7A.48)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 41 COM 7A.49)
    • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 41 COM 7A.31)
    • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 41 COM 7A.22)
    • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.17)
    • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.1)
    • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 41 COM 7A.57)
    • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 41 COM 7A.27)
    • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 41 COM 7A.51)
    • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 41 COM 7A.52)
    • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 41 COM 7A.53)
      Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.51

      The World Heritage Committee,

      1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add,
      2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.43, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
      3. Expresses its continuing concern at the recent damage caused to the cultural heritage of the Historic Town of Zabid as a result of ongoing armed conflict, and that the property continues to be threatened by the current security situation, ongoing social change and continuing lack of organisational support and resources for both heritage management and physical conservation;
      4. Commends the State Party for its communication with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies and acknowledges the efforts of the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY), the local authorities, and the community of Zabid to protect and conserve the property despite the very difficult conditions;
      5. Welcomes the open invitation for a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to advise on short-term repair and conservation works, and to contribute to the development of a set of corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation, as well as the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), as soon as the security situation in Yemen has improved;
      6. Urges all parties involved in the conflict to refrain from any further action that would cause damage to the cultural heritage of Yemen and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and to fulfil their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of properties on the World Heritage List and those included in the Tentative List of Yemen, and encourages all concerned stakeholders to unite for the preservation of cultural heritage in Yemen;
      7. Requests the State Party to continue dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in all restoration and/or reconstruction processes to ensure the safety of the inhabitants and the respect of international conservation standards;
      8. Reiterates its previous calls for the international community to provide technical and financial support, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund, 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, including funding for capacity building and first-aid restoration and protection measures, and calls on the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to continue providing the State Party with technical assistance and support where needed;
      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 2018, for review by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018;
      10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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;
      11. Decides to retain Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
      Report year: 2017
      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 (2017) .pdf
      arrow_circle_right 41COM (2017)
      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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