Zee Ain Heritage Village in Al-Baha Region
Permanent Delegation of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO
Al-Mikhwat Province, Al-Baha Region
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It is among the most important traditional villages in Al-Baha region, and it was built on a mountain top featuring a unique urban heritage organization and environmental configuration and its picturesque view towards the surrounding farms that includes 312 houses, and one mosque. The houses were built from polished stones, with multiple floors from two to four floors that are similar in terms of planning, dating back to the end of the 10thcentury AH/8th century CE. The village is further characterized by the presence of a permanent water source and defensive fortification surrounded by mountains on three sides.
Zee Ain is an archaeological village located in Tehamat Zahran about 20 kilometers from Al-Makhwat province and 24 kilometers from the Al-Baha, it was developed in the 10th century AH/8th century CE making it more than 400 years old. The village was built on the summit of a White Mountain famous for the cultivation of banana, lemon, pepper, basil and Kadi, and handicrafts. The village has many two to four floors houses and a small mosque and many forts used to defend and survey the village
The village was named after a water spring continuously flowing from the nearby mountains to several reservoirs and each particular pond has its own name. There is a local legend that talks about a man lost his cane in one of the valleys, and to retrieve it he tracked it until he reached the village, he gathered its inhabitants and retrieved his cane after digging the spring.
The village has 49 dwellings, 9 of which are composed of one floor, 19 from two floors, 11 from three floors and 10 from four floors. The village was constructed using load bearing walls system "Medamik" and the thickness of the walls are between 0.7 to almost 0.9 meters, structures are roofed using Sider wood. The big rooms are roofed using columns known as "Al-zafer", and above the Sedir wood there is a kind of stones known as "Salat" and the stones are covered with mud. The lower floors are used for reception and living, the upper floors for sleeping, and some of the buildings still exist since the establishment of the village and some are partially run-down and some are completely demolished.
The Village History:
The village witnessed many tribal battles before the Kingdom’s unification by King Abdul Aziz. The most important of these battles suffered by the region is when the tribes of Zahran and Ghamd met with the Turkish army lead by Muhammad Ali Pasha that ended with the defeat of the Turks; their burial place is known as "the Turks graves".
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The village of Zee Ain is a huge archaeological treasure than no one know its value, but those with long experience in the field of tourism, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities rehabilitate a small portion of it but still needs lots of efforts, to benefit from this village and magnificent landscapes with a serious action to accelerate tourism using SCTA capabilities or experience to develop such wonderful places and important site to become the backbone of local economy and national income.
Criterion (v): The Traditional Village of Zee Ain in Al-Baha is an outstanding example of a deliberately preserved traditional settlement, representative of a culture that has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change. This village, which developed mainly during the 10th century AH/8th century CE, not only represents the architectural subgroup within the Assir Region but also bears witness, for the Kingdom as a whole, to the traditional forms of rural life which were generally abolished by the agricultural revolution in the 20th century.
Criterion (iv): The Traditional Village of Zee Ain in Al-Baha is an outstanding examples of traditional human settlements that are perfectly adapted to their environment and their social and economic raison d’être.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
Integrity: The property includes the most important elements and components of the village and the surrounding landscape: the deliberately preserved traditional settlement, the farm lands belonging to it, the wider landscape and the natural environment with all its character-shaping elements. The traditional settlement and its landscape environment, shaped by land-use, together with its fortification that organize and orient the landscape's panorama, form a harmonious and intact entity in its visual appearance.
Authenticity: The Traditional Village of Zee Ain in Al-Baha, developed mainly in 10th century AH/8th century CE, was organized in a homogenous way, preserving heritage elements and traditions that characterize it. The preservation of the traditional techniques of The Traditional Village of Zee Ain in Al-Baha architecture, the local use of materials and forms, as well as the historical, village structure have been maintained. The Banana plantation, orchards and gardens have been preserved; the ecological balance has been maintained even in the forestry environment, taking special care to respect historical authenticity. Thus, The Traditional Village of Zee Ain in Al-Baha is not a museum village devoid of any traditional activity, but a living community whose conservation includes farming.
Comparison with other similar properties
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