Tuesday, June 28, 2011

al-Ain as World Heritage Site

UNESCo has added the city of al-Ain in the southeastern quarter of the United Arab Emirates to its list of World Heritage Sites:
"The inscription was due to the unique and distinguished cultural sites in Al Ain, with particular reference being made to the geological, archaeological and historical importance of Jebel Hafit, Hili cultural landscape, Bidaa Bint Saud, the Oases areas, and the Falaj system...

"Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Advisor for Culture and Heritage in the Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Director General of ADACH, said that the archaeological sites, historical buildings and natural areas, in the city of Al Ain still maintain their cultural values, surroundings and their original urban structure. Since ADACH was established in October 2005, the cultural sites were inventoried, protected and restored, through a strategy based on state-of-the-art methods and internationally approved technological techniques.

"He identified that work is underway to preserve several fortresses and historical places, including the Jahili mosque and fortress, and Bin Hadi House in the Hili Oasis, along with dozens of other archaeological sites and historical buildings.

"Work is also underway to revive the original uses of the buildings and to re-dedicate them to their original purposes (such as the old traditional market in Al-Qattarah). At the same time, they will be used for new purposes, with the objective of integrating these buildings into the vital infrastructure of the city, thus ensuring they are preserved for a long time."

Al-Ain and the nearby mountain of Jabal Hafit do an excellent job of showcasing Arabia desert heritage. It is actually half of an urban area, as the international border went right through Buraimi oasis, and today Buraimi is the name of the Omani side of town, which also has important heritage sites. Another name for the areas, from the early Islamic period, is Tuwwam.

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