Al Ain's cultural centres have become the first Emirati sites to be inscribed on Unesco's World Heritage List, it was announced by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) and the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities (NCTA) yesterday.
There are 25 new international and regional inscriptions added to the 2011 list, including four from the Middle East. Additional sites within the UAE that may be added to the list will be announced at a later date.
"We are proud of this achievement, which came about as a result of concerted efforts by ADACH and NCTA. The 17 sites, which include Jebel Hafeet and Al Jahili Fort, have also yielded evidence of established colonies in Al Ain from both the Stone and Iron Ages in addition to their interactions with travellers from Mesopotamia, Persia and the Sind Valley," Shaikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman, ADACH, said.
ADACH first nominated the sites in 2007, which were then placed on the Tentative List of World Heritage Sites in early 2008. The authority then worked closely with Unesco [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation], submitting an extensive report and organising meetings with Unesco representatives and relevant UAE federal bodies. In 2010, the submission passed all the required steps and a formal confirmation was announced.
Article continues below
"The process to place Al Ain's cultural sites on the list was two fold. Firstly, we formally petitioned Unesco and once our submission was accepted, it paved the way for the second step. During that period, ADACH worked closely with Unesco representatives, compiling extensive reports based on research on the 17 sites," Dr Awad Ali Saleh, Strategic Advisor for International Cultural Collaborations, ADACH, said.
"We then presented our findings during Unesco's 35th General Conference, which took place in Paris [in October 2009]. Afterwards, we had various meetings with representatives of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) who then agreed that the cultural sites were to be added to the World Heritage List," he added.
According to Dr Sami Al Masri, the Deputy Director General, ADACH, the placement of the cultural sites will provide Al Ain with further opportunities to enhance their preservation efforts in addition to highlighting the UAE's culture globally.
"Now that these sites are recognised internationally, it will provide additional opportunities for Al Ain in terms of its tourism, investment and other sectors," he said.