Composed of representatives from 21 States Parties elected by the General Assembly, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, the use of the World Heritage Fund, the decision on sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, and the state of conservation of World Heritage Sites.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was unanimously elected by representatives of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to be the chair of the 45th UNESCO World Heritage Committee and to hold the extended 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The decision acknowledges the Kingdom’s prominent role in supporting global efforts in heritage preservation and protection, in line with the goals of UNESCO.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee commenced with an opening ceremony, which was held at the historic Al Murabba Palace. A dazzling display themed “Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow” was put on for guests, and served to highlight the importance of protecting and celebrating culture and heritage as the world modernises and transforms for a better future.
His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, Saudi Minister of Culture and Chairman of the Saudi National Commission For Education, Culture and Science said, “Saudi Arabia is pleased to host the extended 45th session of the World Heritage Committee. Heritage is core to Saudi Arabia’s identity, and a unifier of the nation and the world. The Kingdom’s contributions to this important international dialogue demonstrates our commitment to preserving culture and heritage for generations to come. Alongside UNESCO and partners, we look forward to facilitating greater global collaboration and collective capacity-building in safeguarding global cultural heritage, to achieve our shared vision of global sustainable development.” Saudi Arabia is home to vast heritage and diverse culture. Currently, Saudi Arabia is home to six UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Hegra Archaeological Site (al-Hijr), At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah, Historic Jeddah, Rock Art in the Hail Region, Al-Ahsa Oasis and Ḥimā Cultural Area. One further site in Saudi Arabia is nominated for consideration at this year’s Committee session.
About UNESCO World Heritage Committee
The UNESCO World Heritage Convention was founded in 1972 as the UNESCO General Assembly approved it in its Session # 17. The World Heritage Committee acts as the governing body of the World Heritage Convention, and meets annually, with membership tenure for six years. The World Heritage Committee is comprised of representatives from 21 States Parties to the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage elected by the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention.
The current composition of the Committee is as follows:
Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, and Zambia.
The essential functions of the Committee are:
- To identify, on the basis of nominations submitted by States Parties, cultural and natural properties of Outstanding Universal Value which are to be protected under the Convention, and to inscribe those properties on the World Heritage List.
- To monitor the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, in liaison with States Parties; decide which properties included in the World Heritage List are to be inscribed on or removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger; decide whether a property may be deleted from the World Heritage List.
- To examine requests for International Assistance financed by the World Heritage Fund.