Officials vow to add more UAE locations to Unesco's world heritage list following Al Ain's designation as a world heritage site.
Unesco recognition to be sought for more UAE sites
ABU DHABI // As they applauded Al Ain's recognition as a world heritage site yesterday, officials in the UAE vowed to submit more historic locations to Unesco for consideration in the future.
"As we celebrate this international recognition, we look forward to further achievements in this area which will undoubtedly serve to promote our country and our people," said Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach). "This achievement is a result of the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, may God bless his soul."
Sheikh Sultan was one of the officials who spoke at a press conference at Emirates Palace hotel in the capital yesterday.
He joined other officials from Adach, the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities (NCTA), and Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth & Community Development.
At a meeting in Paris on June 27, Unesco's world heritage committee announced that Al Ain was the first UAE site to join a list that includes Egypt's pyramids and India's Taj Mahal.
"The archaeological sites in Al Ain region are the location of historically important examples of residential and entombment traditions," said Sheikh Sultan. "These sites are the remaining examples of a culture marked by its ability to overcome a tough natural environment, complete with all its challenges and hardships."
Work on the Al Ain file began in 2003, and was submitted to Unesco in 2008 by Adach, in co-operation with the NCTA. The file includes 17 site components of various historical and cultural types, as well as geographical and physical characteristics that make up the Cultural Sites of Al Ain.
The winning locations in Al Ain include: Jebel Hafeet, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud, its six oases and the man-made water system of falaj.
UAE officials declined to name the other sites they might consider for submission to Unesco.
"The biggest challenge we are facing today is to preserve the balance between heritage and modernity," said Sheikh Sultan.
The press conference also highlighted Adach's general achievements, such as the completion of 140 restoration missions in Al Ain. The restoration work covered 25 historical sites including the oases and buildings.
"For anyone to appreciate heritage and the significance of history and its sites, it needs to start at childhood, where we raise awareness about the beauty of the past and what it means for the present," said Dr Walid Yassin, the manager of the archaeology department at Adach, who has been overseeing the sites that won for more than three decades.
"Al Ain has a beautiful story, and anyone can appreciate it by simply visiting the sites."