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Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun

Bahrain
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Ground transport infrastructure (issue resolved)
  • Housing
  • 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
  • Physical and visual integrity threatened by the urban and architectural development projects around the protected area
  • 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)
  • Road connectivity between Nurana Island and mainland Bahrain
  • Use and controls affecting lands within the area designated for the extension of the property
  • 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 (issue resolved)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 1 (from 2002-2002)
Total amount approved : 26,500 USD
2002 Preparatory Assistance for Qal'at al-Bahrain site (Approved)   26,500 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

January-February 2006: World Heritage Centre mission; June 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission; July 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 21 January 2021, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1192/documents/, which reports the following activities:

  • The proposed introduction of the heritage specific zoning in the Prime Ministerial Edict No. 28 of 2009: Zoning Regulations for Construction continues to be pursued by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) in partnership with the General Directorate for Urban Planning, under the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning, which represents this joint initiative in the Cabinet. Discussions continue regarding the number and types of heritage zones to be included, specifically concerning the allocation of agricultural and urban heritage areas. To facilitate an agreed and sustainable outcome, the BACA proposes that the timeframe for the draft new zoning regulations be extended by up to four years, acknowledging that the proposed new regulations will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review;
  • The BACA has not received final design details of construction methods for the proposed ‘Road Connectivity for Nurana Island’ project tunnel but acknowledges that these details will be submitted for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies before the project proceeds;
  • In September 2020, the World Heritage Centre was advised of reclamation activity, undertaken without a permit, resulting in the intrusion of a land mass into along the eastern shore of the visual corridor, which constitutes the maritime buffer zone of the property. The BACA acted to ensure that the construction work was halted immediately. The unlawful reclamation has already been partially removed, required resources have been allocated, and the BACA is coordinating with the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning and local municipal authorities, to manage and monitor the progress of the removal of the remaining unlawfully reclaimed area.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The State Party has previously acknowledged and responded positively to the need for legal protection and planning frameworks to facilitate the conservation of the attributes that contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The new zoning codes are critical to this process and will not only help to protect the property itself, but will also contribute more generally to heritage protection. The notification of an extended timeframe is therefore disappointing, but the importance of resolving an agreed position on the number and types of heritage zones, and particularly agricultural and urban heritage areas, with the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning is recognised. Therefore, the extended timeframe is acknowledged, but it remains important that the process be followed through, as envisaged by Decisions 41 COM 7B.75 and 43 COM 7B.42, including signed memoranda of understanding with the owners of lands located within the area designated for extension of the property, in order to improve its management and conservation.

The process followed and the decisions already made regarding the road connectivity project for Nurana Island demonstrate the commitment of the State Party to affording primacy to the conservation of the OUV of the property. The Committee has already acknowledged by Decision 43 COM 7B.42 that the tunnel will not substantively affect the OUV of the property, subject to the final design resolution and decisions on construction methodology. It is therefore important that the State Party fulfill its commitment to submit project design details for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies before the project proceeds.

The reported unlawful land reclamation within a significant visual corridor that is part of the buffer zone of the property gives rise to concerns regarding the  enforcement of appropriate land and sea controls and processes.  However, the reaction of BACA and other State Party agencies has been prompt and appropriate.

Noting the processes already in train for submission of documentation and notification under Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and the expected timing for resolution of the proposed planning framework and land use zones, it would be appropriate for the Committee to allow a four year period before reconsidering the state of conservation of the property.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.125
Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun (Bahrain) (C 1992ter)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.42, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Notes that the State Party remains committed to incorporating new codes within the amended Prime Ministerial Edict No. 28 of 2009: Zoning Regulations for Construction, but that this process is ongoing and is not expected to be completed for some years;
  4. Reiterates its request that the State Party also pursue signed 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;
  5. Also reiterates its request that final designs and details of construction methods for the proposed tunnel to Nurana Island be submitted for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, prior to the commencement of any on-site works;
  6. Notes with concern that unlawful land reclamation has occurred within a significant visual corridor that is part of the buffer zone of the property, and requests the State Party to advise the World Heritage Centre once the required remedial works are completed;
  7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, 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 48th session.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.125

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.42, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Notes that the State Party remains committed to incorporating new codes within the amended Prime Ministerial Edict No. 28 of 2009: Zoning Regulations for Construction, but that this process is ongoing and is not expected to be completed for some years;
  4. Reiterates its request that the State Party also pursue signed 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;
  5. Also reiterates its request that final designs and details of construction methods for the proposed tunnel to Nurana Island be submitted for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, prior to the commencement of any on-site works;
  6. Notes with concern that unlawful land reclamation has occurred within a significant visual corridor that is part of the buffer zone of the property, and requests the State Party to advise the World Heritage Centre once the required remedial works are completed;
  7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, 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 48th session in 2025.
Report year: 2021
Bahrain
Date of Inscription: 2005
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2021) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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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