Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun (Bahrain) (C 1192ter)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2005
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1192/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 26,500
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1192/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
January-February 2006: World Heritage Centre mission; June 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission; July 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Project of land reclamation (North Star) in the bay in front of the property, as well as the project of a fishing harbour (issue resolved)
- Physical and visual integrity threatened by the urban and architectural development projects around the protected area
- Visual integrity threatened by a project of a causeway foreseen off the northern coast as part of the global response to the traffic congestion in this part of the country
- Physical and visual integrity of the property threatened by a segment of the “N Road” project, a highway planned on the northern coast of the country whose route is expected to cross the western part of the buffer zone, at a fifty meter distance from the boundaries of the property
- Ground transport infrastructure
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1192/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017
On 7 March 2017, the State Party submitted a report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1192/documents/, and addresses the Committee’s requests at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015). The report provides the following information:
- The implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (2013-2018) (CCMP) by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) led to the inclusion of the gardens within the boundaries of the property and the cooperation of the owners and tenants of these lands, notably to preserve the farming activities;
- Financial constraints have delayed the implementation of the CCMP, the first review of which should take place end of 2017 with a final review scheduled for 2019;
- The state of conservation of the property remains unchanged as the result of regular monitoring and maintenance, training of staff working at the site and a close follow-up of the random small scale development initiatives within the buffer zone;
- Archaeological studies are being conducted at the site while visitor’s experience is improved through additional information and awareness measures as well as increased access to the gardens surrounding the archeological area;
- The draft amendment to Legislative Decree No. 11 of 1995 is still under examination by the Parliament thus delaying the signature of memoranda of understanding with the owners of lands for the time being;
- A national urban study carried out by the Directorate of Urban Planning is expected to come up with a strategy “overseeing all the components and contributors of urban life” that should contribute to the protection of the property;
- Regarding the road connectivity development for Nurana Island, the project’s developer is expected to submit an updated Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA). In the meantime, BACA and the other concerned Bahraini institutions have reached an agreement with the project’s investors to retain the tunnel as the only feasible option;
- BACA has carried out “detailed studies for the zoning of the vicinity” of the property, using the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach and submitted them to the concerned government bodies;
- BACA also submitted a proposal aiming at reinforcing the protection of the property’s attributes, including a vision document for the property and its buffer zone, a new zoning code, specific requirements at the parcel level and a call for HIAs for large-scale projects around the property. The proposal was submitted to the concerned government bodies in October 2016.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The State Party is pursuing its efforts to ensure the protection and conservation of the property. However, it appears from the report that the optimal implementation of the CCMP (2013-2018) depends on the improvement of the budgetary conditions, the approval of the revision of the Heritage Law (Legislative Decree No. 11 of 1995. The Committee may wish to urge the State Party to fully implement the CCMP and to include within it the proposals developed by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) for a vision document, new zoning codes, and requirements for HIAs.
The adoption of the tunnel, as the only feasible option for the road connectivity development for Nurana Island, is a positive step towards the preservation of the attributes of the property. However, it is important that the updated HIA should accurately and comprehensively identify the impacts of the proposed tunnel on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, as a basis for sound decision-making, and so that appropriate mitigative actions can be implemented. Therefore, the revised HIA should conform with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties.
The decision of BACA to use the HUL approach to conduct the series of studies which led to the proposal it submitted to the national decision-making bodies “to consider cultural heritage as the added value and opportunity to enhance future development projects” is welcome. This approach is in line with sustainable urban development, as reflected in the UNESCO Global Report on Culture and Sustainable Urban Development, presented by the Organization at Habitat III Conference in 2016.
The urban study carried out by the Directorate of Urban Planning at national level in order to come up with a strategy “overseeing all the components and contributors of urban life” could be a good starting point towards a wider reflection on the stakes related to the urban development of the areas surrounding the property. This reflection would integrate all the issues raised in the State Party’s report and would come up with long term and large-scale proposed actions in which the sustainable preservation of the property’s OUV, with all the attributes which convey it, would be fully taken into consideration.
A meeting on this subject, involving all concerned stakeholders and national institutions as well as the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, could help conducting this reflection and supporting the efforts of the State Party in the conservation and management of the property.
Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.75
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add.2,
- Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.48, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
- Notes the progress achieved by the State Party in the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (2008-2013);
- Also notes with satisfaction that the tunnel has been adopted as the only feasible option for the road connectivity development for Nurana Island;
- Further notes that the revision of the Heritage Law is still under revision and invites the State Party to consider this revision as a priority, particularly to enable the signature of memoranda of understanding with the owners of lands located within the area designated for the extension of the property, in order to improve its management and conservation;
- Urges the State Party to implement fully the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan and to include within it the proposals developed by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) for a vision document, new zoning codes, and requirements for Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs);
- Encourages the State Party to pursue the use of the approach carried by the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape as well as the urban study carried out by the Directorate of Urban Planning at national level in order to conduct a wider reflection on the stakes related to the urban development of the areas surrounding the property;
- Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as they are available:
- The results of the updated HIA carried out by the developer of the the road connectivity development for Nurana Island, in line with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties,
- The results of the consultation based on the proposal elaborated by BACA aiming at reinforcing the protection of the property’s attributes, including a vision document for the integrated management of the property and its buffer zone, a new zoning code, specific requirements at the parcel level and a call for HIA for big scale projects around the property;
- Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the results of the first review of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan as soon as it has taken place;
- Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 43rd session in 2019.