Qatar site added to UNESCO's World Heritage List

Qatar’s ancient walled town of Al Zubarah has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, the first site in the Gulf state to be added to the prestigious list, it has been announced.

The list, which includes more than 900 historical and cultural sites like the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and Petra in Jordan, had six new additions announced by the the World Heritage Committee.

These included the walled coastal town of Al Zubarah, which was a pearling and trading centre in the late 18th century and early 19th centuries, before it was destroyed in 1811 and abandoned in the early 1900s.

Founded by merchants from Kuwait, Al Zubarah had trading links across the Indian Ocean, Arabia and Western Asia.

A layer of sand blown from the desert has protected the remains of the site’s palaces, mosques, streets, courtyard houses, and fishermen’s huts; its harbour and double defensive walls, a canal, walls, and cemeteries.

Excavation has only taken place over a small part of the site, which offers an outstanding testimony to an urban trading and pearl-diving tradition which sustained the region’s major coastal towns and led to the development of small independent states that flourished outside the control of the Ottoman, European, and Persian empires and eventually led to the emergence of modern day Gulf States.

“It is very significant to include Al Zubarah in Qatar as part of the UNESCO World Heritage list as a historical site that must be protected. This follows the enormous effort by Qatar in ensuring the preservation and conservation of this historical site, leading it to be internationally recognized for its human legacy, specially that Al Zubarah is significant to many of the Gulf nationals,” Sheikh Hassan Bin Mohamed Bin Ali Al Thani, vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) said in a statement to Doha News.

It is the first Qatari site to be added to the World Heritage List. During UNESCO’s 37th session in Cambodia this week, India’s Hill Forts of Rajasthan, Canada’s Red Bay Basque Whaling Station and Namibia’s Namib Sand Sea, among others, were also inscribed into the list.

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