UNESCO to vote on Yazd heritage status

Financial Tribune – The ancient city of Yazd in central Iran will be considered for world heritage status this year when the UNESCO World Heritage Committee holds its 41st session on July 2-12 in Krakow, Poland.

Aside from Yazd, the only other Middle Eastern site up for consideration is the UAE’s Khor Dubai (or Dubai Creek), according to a document published online by UNESCO on May 19.

The ancient city’s dossier was supposed to be considered for inscription last year but was deemed incomplete by UNESCO’s assessors who gave Iran a long list of shortcomings that must be redressed to improve the city’s chances of inscription on the World Heritage List.

One of the key measures that Iran had been told to take was “extending the buffer zone in the area of Dolatabad Garden to provide improved protection of its setting from the impacts of future development”.

This is a common problem facing historical and cultural sites in Iran, whose buffer zones are either too small or otherwise ignored by city officials, thanks to lax laws.

Mohammad Hassan Talebian, deputy for cultural heritage at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, has said that the organization has addressed all the issues outlined by UNESCO.

Located in central Iran, Yazd is believed to be the world’s oldest adobe city, boasting a historical texture covering 2,270 hectares, of which 195.67 hectares have been proposed for UNESCO-listed status. Officials have also envisioned a buffer zone of around 665.93 hectares for the designated area.

Iran’s UNESCO-listed cities, such as Shahr-e-Soukhteh, are all uninhabited, which would make Yazd the first city on the coveted list inhabited by a large population.

Iran currently has 21 world heritage sites, more than any other country in the Middle East. Officials are planning to nominate Yazd and the Caspian Hyrcanian forests for global inscription next year, of which the latter has been on UNESCO’s tentative World Heritage List since 2007.

Tentative List Entries

As of May 19, Iran has listed 10 sites on UNESCO’s tentative list of world heritage sites this year, which are up for inscription within five to 10 years.

These sites include Asbads, ancient windmills found in eastern Iran; the shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), the eighth Shia imam; salt domes found in deserts in southern Iran; industrial heritage of Iranian railroads; textile heritage in the Central Plateau; Karaftoo Cave, a natural and historical complex; Persian caravanserais in the provinces of Yazd, Isfahan and Khorasan Razavi; the Great Wall of Gorgan in northern Iran; the architecture of classic Persian houses in the Central Plateau; and the University of Tehran.