UNESCO’s World Heritage List set to include 50 new sites

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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World Heritage Committee 45th session at Riyadh

The World Heritage Committee has added new sites to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List during its extended 45th Session, which is taking place in Riyadh from 10 September to the 25th.

The newly added sites to World Heritage List encompass natural locations, including the Odzala-Kokoua Forest Massif in Congo, the Dry Forests of Andrefana in Madagascar, the Volcanoes and Forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique in France. The committee also expanded the boundaries of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam to include the Cat Ba Archipelago.

Meanwhile, the world eagerly awaits the announcement from the World Heritage Committee during its ongoing session, revealing the results of the vote to include around 50 new sites on the World Heritage List. Among these 50 sites, there are 37 cultural sites, 12 natural sites, and two sites of mixed significance. This comes in addition to discussing 5 proposed modifications to the boundaries of existing heritage sites.

Over the past week, the committee initiated its regular proceedings, including the discussion of regulations and voting on its lists. In the second week, it commenced the voting process for the inclusion of numerous nominated sites in the World Heritage List, as submitted by UNESCO member states.

The process of adding new sites to UNESCO’s World Heritage List is set to continue until the conclusion of the committee’s activities. The UNESCO World Heritage List reflects the cultural and natural diversity of the world, therefore, the organization holds an annual meeting to update the list according to its significance to the tourism sector and to discuss providing the necessary funding to preserve the sites.

During the session, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan jointly submitted a request to include the 900-kilometer-long Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor, situated along the historical Silk Road, in the World Heritage List.

Tunisia also submitted a request to include the Djerba Island in the World Heritage List. The island covers an area of 514 square kilometers and holds a prominent strategic position in the Mediterranean Sea.

The committee is also considering the inclusion of the “Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve” in Saudi Arabia, situated on the southwestern edge of the Empty Quarter desert. It covers an area of 12,787 square kilometers and encompasses various geological formations and important natural habitats, including high sand dunes and intermittent limestone plateaus.

Turkiye aspires to have its medieval-era mosques, known for their wooden structures, included in the World Heritage List. France submitted a request for the ancient Roman Maison Carrée Temple, or “Square House”, located in the city of Nimes in the southwest of the country, which is meticulously preserved.

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