Riyadh, Saudi Arabia XNUMX-September-XNUMX The extended XNUMXth session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, and the first in-person committee gathering in four years, successfully concluded today in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The session saw the highest number of sites inscribed on the World Heritage List in two decades, with XNUMX new sites added and five existing sites extended. Over the last two weeks, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of representatives from XNUMX States Parties elected by the General Assembly, gathered to examine sites for inscription on the World Heritage List and review the state of conservation of the properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Through plenary sessions, the Committee facilitated critical international dialogue and the exchange of ideas all focused on the protection, conservation, and maintenance of world heritage. In total, XNUMX new cultural and nine new natural heritage sites were inscribed, with XNUMX in Europe, XNUMX in Asia, six in Africa, six in the Americas and three in the Middle East. The XNUMXth Session also saw the largest number of inscriptions from Africa in a single Committee session since XNUMX.
Among the list of new sites inscribed is Uruq Bani Ma‘arid Reserve, Saudi Arabia’s seventh World Heritage Site, and its first Natural Heritage Site, highlighting the Kingdom’s continued efforts to protect and maintain its ecosystems and natural heritage. Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Director World Heritage at UNESCO said, “I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the host country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for its warm hospitality, meticulous organisation, and unwavering commitment to the preservation of cultural and natural heritage. Riyadh has welcomed us with open arms, and we have been enriched by the cultural experiences since our arrival and the kindness shown by the people.” Organisations that assisted in organising the extended 47th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee were also honoured at a closing ceremony held at the Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh on 5 September. At the closing ceremony, UNESCO delegates and guests enjoyed a fusion of traditional melodies by the Saudi National Orchestra and Choir who had recently returned from New York as a part of a tour where they had previously performed in Mexico City and Paris showcasing the very best of Saudi music and performing arts around the world. They have showcased popular songs and performances, such as Samri, al-Dana, al-Ribash, and al-Yanbaawi.
The success of the Committee session in Riyadh further reaffirms the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting global efforts in heritage preservation and protection, in line with the goals of UNESCO, and highlights Saudi Arabia’s position as a destination of choice for large-scale events.
UNESCO also presented studies and innovative solutions for conservation, management and raising public awareness, such as the “Dive into Heritage” project, which will allow the general public from now until 2025 to explore World Heritage sites online.
A total of US$336000 in international funding has been allocated to 6 World Heritage sites located in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Egypt, Haiti, the Marshall Islands and Sri Lanka, to support the development of local conservation projects; More than 30 sites benefited from such financial assistance during the years 2022-2023, the total of which exceeded one million US dollars.