These are Asia’s Unesco World Heritage hopefuls
THE 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee is currently underway in Bahrain.
From June 24 to July 4, committee members will examine the nominations of 29 sites all hoping to receive Unesco World Heritage status and protection.
“Expectations of this session are high and we must seize this opportunity to strengthen joint work for the safeguarding of cultural heritage,” session chairperson Sheikha Haya Bint Rashed Al-Khalifa said.
What does World Heritage status mean?
The hopeful sites have been divided into categories of natural sites, cultural sites, and mixed sites.
Each site must either already be a classified landmark or be recognizable as having geographical and historical significance.
This could be an extraordinary accomplishment by humanity, such as Machu Picchu in Peru, or an incredible fleet of engineering from Mother Nature, such as Australia’s great barrier reef.
If the committee confers the sites hold enough historical, cultural or scientific significance, they will receive the World Heritage site status and be legally protected by international treaties.
Meaning the sites will be monitored and protected from animal and human interference and attract tourism to grow the local economy.
While the title immunizes sites from some potential threats, situations such as war are beyond Unesco’s control, meaning many sites have already been lost.
“Across Iraq, over 100 cultural heritage sites have been destroyed, many of which are in Mosul,” Unesco Director-General Audrey Azoulay said during the session’s opening ceremony.
And unfortunately, the world is home to hundreds of lost sites.
But Unesco is focused on protecting nominated sites and rebuilding those which have been damaged.
“Last February, UNESCO launched an initiative to revive the spirit of Mosul, in partnership with the Iraqi authorities,” Azoulay added.
Currently, there are 1,073 World Heritage Sites around the globe, and these five places in Asia are hoping to join that list.
In the northeastern region of Sur in Oman, the ancient city of Qalhat sits crumbling between arid hummocks and the strong sun.
In the 13th century, the city served as an important stop for traders journeying the Indian Ocean trade network.
But now, all that remains of the city is the dome-less mausoleum built by Bibi Maryam who ruled the area nearly 800 years ago.
Al-Ahsa oasis, Saudi Arabia
Al-Ahsa oasis is an environmental phenomenon in the sun-scorched Arabian Desert.
It is considered the largest palm tree oasis in the world, covering 379 kilometers of land and playing home to 1.3 million people.
The oasis is made up over 160 hot and freshwater springs lined with nearly three million date palm trees.
Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Kathmandu Valley fits both natural and cultural categories on the Unesco World Heritage qualifying classes.
It is home to at least 130 significant monuments including pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Buddhists.
Kathmandu Valley has long been popular with tourism for its vibrant culture and numerous street festivals.
Nepal is already home to 10 World Heritage Sites, seven of them are in Kathmandu Valley.
Sansa Buddhist Mountain Monasteries, South Korea
The Sansa Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do Province, South Korea symbolize the first era of Buddhism on the Korean peninsula.
The monastery complex is made up of 20 buildings and four affiliated temples dating back to the 5th century.
Over the centuries, some of the temples have been destroyed by war and fire and then rebuilt again.
Mount Fanjingshan, China
Mount Fanjingshan and its surrounding 567-square-kilometers of lush forest in south-central China are up for a title in the natural property category.
Almost 800 plants species cover the land, hosting nearly 2,000 species of animal in their branches.
The region is most recognizable for the towering peaks that jut out the foliage.
Source: Travels travelwireasia.com