The World Heritage List by UNESCO has been on a mission to conserve the globe’s most historic natural and cultural sites since 1972. With 1,703 locations currently sitting on said list, UNESCO is constantly on the look-out for sites of significant importance to add to its catalogue – and several more just made the cut.
The World Heritage Committee is currently meeting in Bahrain, and this weekend revealed two Middle Eastern locations would be added to the renowned list. The Ancient City of Qalhat in Oman and Al Ahsa Oasis in Saudi Arabia were added on Friday, UNESCO confirmed, along with the Sassanid Archeological Landscape of Fars region in Iran. The Omani entry, which is located on the east coast of the sultanate, “bears unique archaeological testimony to the trade links between the east coast of Arabia, East Africa, India, China and South-east Asia”, UNESCO revealed in a statement.
The organization also added that the Al-Asha Oasis, which is made up of gardens, canals, springs, historical buildings, and archeological sites, “represents traces of continued human settlement in the Gulf region from the Neolithic to the present”. “With its 2.5 million date palms, it is the largest oasis in the world. Al-Ahsa is also a unique geocultural landscape and an exceptional example of human interaction with the environment.”
Other additions to make it to the list include the Oura Cathedral in the Nagasaki region of Japan, the Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in South Korea, an Art Deco Building in Mumbai, and the Caliphate City of Medina Azahara in Spain. The committee, which opened its 42nd session on June 24, is meeting until July 4. Among locations still in the running for World Heritage status is Dubai Creek, the iconic waterway that has been the heart of the city’s harbour-based trade for decades. The UAE currently has one site already on the list; the collective cultural sites of Al Ain, including the Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas, which were added in 2011.