Saudi Arabia has selected three sites to nominate as the first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites in the Kingdom, the Arab News reported today. They are the ancient Nabatean city of Madain Saleh, the Jeddah historic center, and Riyadh’s Al-Dirriyah neighborhood.
“The inclusion of these three historically important locations in the world heritage map would be a major step toward introducing the heritage of our country to the outside world,” said Undersecretary for Archeology and Museums at the Ministry of Education Muhammad Al-Ruwaished earlier this week, as quoted in the Arab News.
Through its World Heritage program, UNESCO seeks to preserve cultural and natural sites worldwide in cooperation with experts and governments. There are currently 644 cultural, 162 natural and 24 mixed-properties in 138 countries on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Saudi Arabia has identified around 10,000 historical and archeological sites as worth consideration for development.
Placement on the UNESCO list paves the way for greater international collaboration in preserving the sites. The application process begins with a country’s submission of a tentative list for nomination. Then, UNESCO committees review each site to determine its universal value. The sites must meet at least one of ten criteria listed in UNESCO’s guidelines.