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Unesco team visits Historic Jeddah
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 18 - 02 - 2011

JEDDAH: Representatives from Unesco and Icomos – the International Council on Monuments and Sites – visited the historical district of Jeddah Wednesday as the Kingdom's authorities seek to have the zone registered on the list of United Nations World Heritage Sites.
Al-Hayat Arabic daily reported that the group, which comprised specialists in archaeological restoration and renovation, were given a tour of the most prominent buildings by Ali Al-Ghabban, vice chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), and were briefed on preservation and renovation work.
The Unesco and Icomos officials also took part in a two-day workshop involving representatives from the SCTA, the Makkah Emir's Office, the Jeddah Mayoralty, municipality and Civil Defense, as well as the National Water Company and the ministries of Health, Islamic Affairs, Endowments and Labor.
Al-Ghabban said that “rapid efforts” were being made under the orders of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Emir of Makkah and Chairman of the High Committee for the Development of Historical Jeddah, to meet the requirements set by Unesco for the inclusion of the district in its list of World Heritage Sites.
“The aim goes beyond simply getting the district onto the list,” Al-Ghabban said at the opening of the workshop.
“We also want to develop the area and ensure that it is turned into a place hosting sites of cultural and economic interest and activity that will secure its continued protection and care.”
Sami Nawwar, President of the Historical District Municipality, said the visit by Unesco and Icomos also included meeting with the Mayor of Jeddah, and he praised the concern of the Emir of Makkah and the Governor of Jeddah for the development of the zone.
Jeddah's Historic Area has gradually depleted in the number of buildings left standing over the last few decades, the most recent loss occurring last Saturday night when a fire broke out at a house of historic interest, gutting the building and partially damaging a neighboring site.
Muhammad Al-Amri, Director of the SCTA's Makkah office, said that after the fire the area has been “neglected for decades”.
“We have lost a large number of historical buildings,” he said. “Only 375 now remain of the approximately 1,000 that existed 25 years ago.”

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