• Subject Name : Arts and Humanities

UNESCO’s Response to Each Issue of The Old Walled City of Shibam - Yemen Individually?



Description of the Site.

Issue 1.

Issue 2.

Issue 3.

Issue 4.



Introduction to Impact of World Heritage Listing

The purpose of the report, UNESCO’s response to each issue as identified within the Old Walled City of Shibam – Yemen. The Walled City of the Shibam is part of the world heritage center and it is one of the endangered city present today. The city is abandonment due to the lack of food availability as a result of the adoption of the old agricultural flood management that is built within the wadi, and it is also overloaded with the traditional sanitary systems, that lapses and burdens with the inadequate measurement of modern water supply. The other problems faced such as the city is made of the mud (which constantly erodes), constant flooding issues (due to inadequate facility for the drainage) and the city is the center to the place of the conflict and the armed terror (Anysz, 2019). The report discusses the issues in detail and the UNESCO response to it.

Description of the Site

The city has been structured with the fortified wall, built around the 16th-century city of Shibam is known to be one of the oldest and the best examples of urban planning. The city is structured over the principle of vertical construction (Armenta 2018). The city is the “oldest and one of the modern examples of urban planning" (UNESCO, 2015). The 16th-century city referred to as the “Manhattan of the Dessert”. and inscribed within 1982, under criteria (iii),(iv), and (v), this Islamic city has an estimated population of more than 7000 people. The city also has the infrastructure of the school, hospital, markets, having the two entrances, for the pedestrians, and one for livestock (Rossi, 2020).

Shibam is known to be one of the World Heritage which has been declared as endangered as of 2nd July 2015. The city belongs to the center of the flood plain existing in between the two mountains over the edge of a flood wall. With the lack of infrastructure, the city is known for the sizeable threat of flooding. To avoid the erosions, there has been an extra coating of mud over the tower-like structures. The city has experienced the years of conflict and there was an Al Qaeda attack in 2009, that has killed 4 tourists, and the flood wall that separates the city has been damaged (Gubasheva, 2018).

Impact of World Heritage Listing - Issue 1

The infrastructure of the city (made of mud), and the problem of erosion

The weather conditions, sanitization issues, and the destruction of the flooding gates have caused the erosion of the city, leading to the devastating impacts on the city. The UNESCO action has been extended in funding, repairing the damaged flood gates, even the drainage system and timely mending the city with the double coat of mud to preserve it. The UNESCO action also has to be to implement the risk mitigation mechanisms and even provide the best efforts to conserve the heritage. The UNESCO has partnered with the international forces, to preserve the country’s varied landscape and environmental conditions. Form time to time, the UNESCO also mobilizes the resources and safeguard Yemen’s cultural heritage by focusing on the number of projects that can plan out the steps over the rehabilitation of private houses and even preserving the building capacity for the local authorities (Angelakis, et al, 2018).

Impact of World Heritage Listing - Issue 2

The Flooding

The UNESCO action has been to preserve the city from the flooding and even provide timely control measures, to divert floods through gates and barricades. To control the flooding issues, Yemeni has even supported the cash for work projects that can preserve the historical centers of Yemen, such as Aden, Sana’a, Shibam, and Zabid (Armenta, 2017). Such projects work for the restoration and preserving the city, which has been supported by the European Union along with the implementation by the Social Fund for Development (SFD) that focuses on the local authorities. The projects aim to provide the active support of the youths approximately 4000 that work on the ongoing restoration and preserving the place, from the natural threats. Even during the flash floods, Unesco has partnered with the Public Works Project (PWP) and GOPHCY to timely intervene and restore the site (Armenta, 2017).

Impact of World Heritage Listing - Issue 3

The Conflict and Armed Terror

From time to time, UNESCO has incorporated the Heritage Emergency Fund to respond to the emergency and overcome the crises. The fund aims to restore and even preserve the place, at the time of the armed conflicts and disasters within the country. Unesco has partnered and intervened to preserve the Al-Qasimi area belonging to the Old City of Sana’a and even the Historic Town of Zabid to safeguard and protect the 30 buildings from further collapsing (Armenta, 2017).

Impact of World Heritage Listing - Issue 4

Poor Maintenance

Total funding to restore and even overcome the challenge of the poor maintenance has been seen as the problematic concern, for which UNESCO has funded USD 194,836 from the European Union that was separated for the damage assessments, aimed for the capacity development and even to provide the emergency stabilization at the time of crises (Tabet, 2016). The site has been protected and restored for the better maintenance, due to the Sustainable Management of Tangible Heritage archaeological sites with the amount of USD 35,000 along with the cash for the work programs (Vis, 2016).

Conclusion on Impact of World Heritage Listing

It is concluded that Shibam’s designing of the city is known to be one of the heritage place, that has been restored and timely preserved by the UNESCO action over it. The city is known for the giant flood wadi, with the elevated shields from flooding while maintaining the primary source of water and agriculture. It is built in the rectangular grid with a fortified wall having a defensive arrangement to protect inhabitants from any armed conflicts or issues.

References for Impact of World Heritage Listing

Angelakis, A. N., Asano, T., Bahri, A., Jimenez, B. E., & Tchobanoglous, G. (2018). Water reuse: from ancient to modern times and the future. Frontiers in Environmental Science6, 26.

Anysz, H., & Narloch, P. (2019). Designing the composition of cement stabilized rammed earth using artificial neural networks. Materials12(9), 1396.

Armenta, X. D. R. (2018). Heritage Preservation in War: Proactive and Reactive Approaches Applied to the Old City in Sana’a, Yemen.

Gubasheva, S. (2017). Adobe Brick as a Building Material (Bachelor's thesis, České vysoké učení technické v Praze. Vypočetní a informační centrum.).

Tabet, Y. (2016). Acting in Times of Crisis: The Arab States as an Exemplary Case for UNESCO's Challenges in the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage. Art Antiquity & L.21, 353.

Vis, A. S. (2016). Framing the War in Yemen: Narratives of Aggressive Neighbours, Internal Extremism, and Humanitarian Crisis (Master's thesis).

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