1.         Ḥimā Cultural Area (Saudi Arabia) (C 1619)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2021

Criteria  (iii)

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/1619/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1619/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Factors identified at the time of inscription of the property:

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1619/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

On 24 November 2022, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1619/documents/. Progress in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous session is presented in this report, as follows:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The State Party has made considerable progress towards implementing the World Heritage Committee’s recommendations. A list of attributes, organized in typologies, has been defined to guide the State Party’s efforts with regard to the inventory, mapping, research and monitoring programme for the property. The epigraphy inventory has been completed and a similar programme for rock-art is ongoing. The field recording is largely completed. However, the recording of the data in the database, which is still being developed, will take more time. Overall, the inventory is expected to be completed in 2023-2024. Two preliminary maps of the inventoried sites and the format of the upgraded database sheets were provided by the State Party, as examples of the work carried out so far.

The monitoring programme for the property is under development. The set of indicators, tools to be used, frequency of monitoring and who is responsible for it, have already been defined. Since the indicators cover different management aspects, it is recommended that conservation indicators are prioritized.

A conservation programme for the Ḥimā wells has been developed, following digital surveys and field observations on their state of conservation, undertaken between March and April 2022. The objective is to restore the wells to their original condition. The programme details the conservation approach for each of the wells, the work that is required and an approximate implementation schedule. It is recommended that the State Party also develops a conservation programme for the property as a whole.

A tourism management strategy is also under development. The State Party informs that, at present, the scale and kind of projects that are being considered do not threaten the conservation of the property. HIAs will be developed in the event of larger project proposals. It is recommended that HIAs be conducted in line with the new Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessment in a World Heritage Context.

The State Party also informs that it has organized a series of capacity building activities on visitor management, rock-art monitoring, and impact assessments for the staff at Najran. No information is provided on the recruitment of new staff, as recommended by the Committee.

Based on the mapping and research, which has been carried out, the State Party considers the most important rock-art panels to be within the boundaries of the six component parts which constitute the property. However, the ongoing inventory has shown that thousands of archaeological sites and rock-art panels exist both within the buffer zone and beyond it, although most seem to be of lesser importance and interest. Hence, the State Party has decided to extend the buffer zone. The new boundaries are presented in the maps included in the report. Once approved, the State Party will formally submit a minor boundary modification request.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.147

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 8B.11 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online 2021),
  3. Takes notes with satisfaction of the progress made by the State Party in implementing the recommendations made by the Committee at the time of inscription;
  4. Encourages the State Party to continue its efforts to set up the documentation system and to complete the inventory of heritage sites within the buffer zone and the wider setting;
  5. Also encourages the State Party to complete the monitoring programme, commence its implementation as soon as possible, and refine it based on lessons learned, particularly in relation to the conservation indicators, which should be prioritized;
  6. Further encourages the State Party to implement the conservation programme for the Ḥimā wells, within the expected timeframe, and to develop a similar programme for the property as a whole;
  7. Recommends the State Party to carry out Heritage Impact Assessments, in line with the Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context, for any projects related to tourism activities and infrastructure that may arise in the future and requests the State Party to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, detailed information on any such projects within the property, its buffer zone and wider setting, which may impact the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies prior to any decisions being taken that could be difficult to reverse;
  8. Also takes notes of the State Party’s intention to submit to the World Heritage Centre a proposal for a minor boundary modification, prepared in accordance with Paragraph 164 of the Operational Guidelines, to expand the buffer zone and also recommends that the State Party consider the option of extending the property as well, in case information comes to light from the inventory and archaeological research, that would reinforce the integrity and understanding of the property;
  9. 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 47th session.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 8B.76

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/8B,
  2. Adopts the Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for the following World Heritage properties inscribed at previous sessions of the World Heritage Committee: