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 meters distance from the boundaries of the property
- Road connectivity between Nurana Island and mainland Bahrain
- Use and controls affecting lands within the area designated for the extension 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 2019
On 29 November 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation. A revised version was submitted on 12 February 2019, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1192/documents/, and reports the following activities:
- Through the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), the State Party has pursued a range of actions to facilitate the protection, conservation and sustainable management of the property in line with the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on Historic Urban Landscapes (HUL) and Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Qal'at al Bahrain 2013-2018. Heritage legislation has been reviewed and four categories of zoning codes have been submitted to the Authority of Urban Planning, two of which (‘Archaeological Sites’ and ‘Historic Gardens’) apply to the property. These codes are to be incorporated within the amended Prime Ministerial Edict No. 28 of 2009: Zoning Regulations for Construction, which regulates private and public development;
- Intra-governmental cooperation has progressed, with the vision document, zoning proposals and heritage protection strategy of BACA now integrated within the National Land Policy Strategic Plan and National Land Policy Guidelines. Initial evaluation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the property concluded that 75% of the overall actions to be realized between 2013 and 2018 have been completed or are ongoing;
- Significant progress has been made in relation to the issue of road connectivity between Nurana Island and mainland Bahrain. Following discussions in Manama in June 2018, the State Party determined that a temporary causeway could not be constructed through the visual corridor at the north of the property. Therefore, the tunnel option, previously considered in 2015, has been re-activated and refined. Geophysical surveys have established that the Dammam aquifer is not located within the study area. Seismic refraction models suggest that there is no evidence for archaeological assets along the tunnel alignment. A comprehensive Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the proposed ‘Road Connectivity for Nurana Island’ project was submitted by the State Party as an annex to their revised report on the state of conservation.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The State Party has responded positively and proactively to establish legal protection and planning frameworks that will facilitate the conservation of the attributes that contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. Once the new zoning codes are adopted, they will not only help to protect the property, but will also contribute more generally to heritage protection in the Kingdom of Bahrain. It is important that this process be followed through, as envisaged by Decision 41 COM 7B.75, with memoranda of understanding signed with the owners of lands located within the area designated for the extension of the property, to improve its management and conservation.
The BACA has made significant progress in integrating heritage protection strategies within the National Land Policy Strategic Plan and National Land Policy Guidelines. The level of engagement and liaison evident between agencies within the State Party will contribute to effective long-term conservation and management. Development in the buffer zone continues to be controlled and experts from BACA review each case. Large-scale development projects are subject to a separate evaluation through HIA. The archaeological heritage, underwater archaeological heritage and the agricultural heritage located within the property components can now be better protected and conserved through these arrangements. There has been significant and impactful progress with implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the property.
The processes and considerations of the road connectivity development for Nurana Island demonstrate the commitment of the State Party to affording primacy to the conservation of the property. Although the prospect of a visually-intrusive causeway, which would have impacted on the property, its buffer zone and the visual corridor to the north, has again been under consideration, the State Party is to be commended for the decision that the causeway project may not proceed.
The HIA for the proposed ‘Road Connectivity for Nurana Island’ project, is a good example of the application of the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties. The HIA reviews previous management issues and Committee decisions, and not only addresses the OUV of the property, but also cultural heritage expressions that are within the buffer zone, including archaeological and underwater cultural heritage. The HIA employs thorough, bespoke methodologies to analyze the impacts of noise, vibration, air pollution and dust, siltation, aqua dynamics, and visual disturbance. Impacts on the heritage components are analysed and mitigation measures are identified, using clear matrix summaries. Conclusions are supported by referenced data.
The final design of the tunnel and identification of the most appropriate construction techniques will require further studies. The HIA provides a compelling conclusion that if the tunnel is constructed, the integrity of the property would be maintained and that major visual (and noise) impacts would be limited to the two-year construction period. The overall impact on OUV would be negligible and the project would be able to proceed without significant impact on the property or its wider surroundings.
Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.42
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.75, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
- Notes the significant progress achieved by the State Party in the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan;
- Also notes that the vision document, zoning proposals and heritage protection strategy of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) are now integrated within the National Land Policy Strategic Plan and National Land Policy Guidelines, and that a range of actions have occurred to facilitate the protection, conservation and sustainable management of the property in line with the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on Historic Urban Landscapes and the Management Plan for Qal'at al Bahrain 2013-2018;
- Requests the State Party to expedite the incorporation of new codes within the amended Prime Ministerial Edict No. 28 of 2009: Zoning Regulations for Construction, and to pursue 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;
- Welcomes the decision not to pursue a temporary causeway connection with Nurana Island, and the thorough and definitive investigations, which have supported the preparation of a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the proposed tunnel;
- Further notes the comprehensive HIA for the proposed ‘Road Connectivity for Nurana Island’ project, concluding that the tunnel will not substantively affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, subject to the final design resolution and decisions on construction methodology, and therefore also requests that final designs and details of construction methods for the tunnel be submitted for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, prior to the commencement of any on-site works;
- Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, 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 45th session in 2021.