CAIRO (HPD) — An ancient Yemeni kingdom and a Lebanese modernist concrete fairground were placed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in danger Wednesday, becoming the latest sites in the Middle East to enter the list. ready.
The seven archaeological sites of the former Yemeni kingdom of Sheba and Tripoli’s Rachid Karameh International Fair were placed on the UN agency’s list in an “emergency procedure”, in the hope of better preserving forgotten sites. Both sites will now have access to increased technical and financial assistance, according to UNESCO.
Yemen’s pre-Islamic kingdom of Saba, which once stretched from Sanaa to Marib, is now on one of the main front lines dividing Houthi rebels from Saudi Arabian coalition forces. The threat of destruction from the ongoing conflict was cited as the key reason for adding the seven monuments which include several ancient temples, a dam and the ruins of ancient Marib.
Yemen’s ruinous conflict began in 2014, when Iranian-backed rebels swept down the mountain and occupied the capital Sanaa along with much of northern Yemen, driving out the internationally recognized government. A Saudi-led coalition — equipped with US and British weapons and intelligence — entered the war on the side of Yemen’s exiled government in March 2015.
A barrage of Saudi-led airstrikes has destroyed historic mud-brick houses in northern Saada, the historic heart of the Houthis, and damaged much of central Sana’a’s more than 2,500-year-old Old Town, also declared World Heritage by UNESCO. In 2015, airstrikes partially destroyed a section of the Marib High Dam, near the Awwam Temple, one of the seven iconic sites.
On the other hand, Lebanon’s modernist Rachid Karami International Fair was designed in the 1960s as part of a broader policy of modernizing the country. Shortage of funds continually halted construction before the half-built compound was finally abandoned after the outbreak of the civil war in the mid-1970s.