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History & Heritage


The three Arab sites proposed for inclusion on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2023

On September 16, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee met in Saudi Arabia for an extended session during which it evaluated numerous sites nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List. Here are the three nominations from Arab countries.

‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid, Saudi Arabia

‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest protected areas, spans approximately 12,000 square kilometers. Established by Royal Decree in 1995, its purpose was clear: safeguarding the natural beauty of the Ar-Rub‘ al-Khali desert while reintroducing indigenous species to their ancestral habitats.

Located to the south of Riyadh, ‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid is managed by the Saudi Wildlife Authority. Since its inception, ‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid has seen remarkable success. The Arabian oryx, once extinct in the wild, now thrives in this unfenced sanctuary, with an estimated 500 specimens roaming freely. The Arabian sand gazelle and mountain gazelle species have also been preserved, flourishing since their reintroduction in 1995.


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Jericho/Tell es-Sultan, Palestine

Traveling to Palestine, we find ourselves in the heart of antiquity at Tell es-Sultan, in Jericho, which is considered the oldest city in the world. This ancient town dates back to the Epipaleolithic era. Located near the Dead Sea and below sea level, it holds the title of the world’s lowest ancient town.

Discovered in modern times by Charles Warren in 1868, it owes its identification to the abundant spring of Ain es-Sultan. The site’s historical significance extends to the Neolithic era, witnessing the rise of agriculture and the flourishing of a complex society.

Known by many names, from the City of Palms to the City of Giants, its ancient Canaanite name, “Ariha,” is rooted in the moon god’s name, “Yeriho.” The site’s rich heritage is further evidenced by the discovery of “Ruha,” an ancient Canaanite name, etched in stone scarabs from the second millennium BC.


Djerba, Tunisia

Now off to Tunisia, where we encounter the island of Djerba, often described as the crossroads of ancient and medieval Mediterranean history. Nicknamed by Homer as the “Island of the Lotophages,” the island has left an indelible mark on the country. Djerba’s significance stretches from being a Phoenician stopover to a center of commerce and culture during classical antiquity.

In Tunisia, it is also known as a beacon of coexistence, as it is home to the country’s largest Jewish community and the second largest in all Arab countries. It also houses the Ghriba synagogue, the oldest in the Mediterranean West and in all of Africa.


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See also

Tunisian harissa enters the Unesco intangible heritage of humanity

Published on 14 September 2023

#Arab world