The UAE has added four new sites to the tentative list of global heritage sites of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
This brings the total number of areas from UAE under review to 12.
UNESCO is a United Nations’ specialized agency that promotes world peace and security through international cooperation in the fields of education, science and culture
The heritage sites are all in Ras Al Khaimah and include the pearling town of Jazirah al-Hamra, Julfar City, Al Shamal and Al Dhayah.
“I am delighted that these four important sites from Ras Al Khaimah have now been formally added to the UAE’s tentative list of Unesco World Heritage Sites. Together, they represent around 5,000 years of our history, with a particular emphasis on our maritime traditions. The Ministry of Culture and Youth will continue to work with the relevant local departments to complete the process of UNESCO listing. This helps to gain international recognition for our heritage.”
Other heritage sites under review currently include the Al Bidya Mosque in Fujairah, the Umm an-Nar Island settlement and cemetery in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Creek.
The new sites will enhance the UAE’s global presence on the cultural tourism map. It is important to note that it has a clear joint agenda with UNESCO to preserve and ensure the sustainability of cultural heritage. It can also be made an efficient tool for economic growth.
Let us take a look at the latest additions to the UNESCO review list:
The ancient Julfar City
Julfar, the port-city, was an integral element in international trade for centuries. In fact, Ras Al Khaimah was earlier known as the Julfur City.
A part of the Musandam Peninsula and close to the Hormuz Strait, the city is situated on a sedimentary plain separated from the Gulf Coast by limestone quarries.
It has access to rainwater and sediment pools from the steep mountains because of its geographical location in a drifting area between Wadi Beeh and Wadi Haqil, meaning it has fertile soil suitable for agriculture.
The Pearl Trade City of Jazirah al-Hamra
The original 45-hectare island was situated on the southern coast of Ras Al Khaimah close to the Gulf. The eastern and southern parts of it were connected to the mainland and were constantly reachable.
To the east, the island overlooks the desert and it is currently protected by two surveillance towers.
The maritime environment of the town provides only marginal-salty water for household use. The Red Island’s small alleys contain houses with yards, markets, mosques and a fort, along with towers of surveillance.
The beautiful Al Shamal
Al Shamal is a rich heritage site which stretches over three kilometers from Ras Al Jabal. The area is characterized by plains of gravel and forests of Acacia overlooking quarries of limestone in Ras Al Khaimah. To the west, in the fertile plains of Wadi Beeh and Wadi Hail, Al Shamal overlooks a vast palm-tree garden.
The cultural site has many settlements and more than 100 prehistoric cemeteries, as well as a palace dating from 1600 to 2000 BC and other sites dating back to very old times. The Al Shamal area has contributed to the unique cultural traditions that have evolved along the ancient trade routes of the Gulf, the Indian Ocean and the Arab Peninsula’s southeastern part.
Al Dhayah with its many stories
Dhayah Fort is a fortification built in the 18th century in Ras Al Khaimah and is the highest hilltop fort in the UAE. It has been recently restored with much effort.
In terms of geographical location and culture, Al Dhayah is one of the most impressive and important sites in Ras Al Khaimah and has many ancient stories to tell.
The area is surrounded by steep mountains ascending from three directions. It overlooks a lake in the western direction. For thousands of years, the Gulf of Al Dhayah has hosted stable communities and its gravel plains, shaped like a crescent, have witnessed coast-facing agricultural activities.
The area has various natural attractions including landscapes, historical locations and heritage sites including a lake, gardens of palm trees and the Al Dhayah Fort.