Construction, restoration halted in Zabid [Archives:2007/1102/Local News]

November 12 2007

Ismail Al-Ghabri
ZABID, Nov. 11 ) The Yemeni government has taken all required measures to halt and prevent any construction, restoration, destruction or building of new developments in the historic city of Zabid, unless given prior permission and official license by the General Authority to Preserve Historic Cities and approved by Zabid's preservation committee.

The Yemeni Cabinet approved activating the committee's role and engaging it in the process to preserve Zabid. The ministers' council confirmed that the Ministry of Culture and the General Authority to Preserve Historic Cities should work diligently to finalize issuing the Architectural Heritage Law in order to have legal and clear grounds regarding implementing the requirements to preserve the city.

The ministers' council also demanded the Ministry of Public Works and Highways complete plans for a project to erect the new city of Zabid.

At its meeting last Tuesday, the ministers' council further approved establishing a higher committee to preserve Zabid, chaired by the minister of culture, in order to follow up the Architectural Heritage Law's issuance, as well as organize the process to support and back up the city.

Moreover, the Ministry of Culture will conduct a national campaign to educate the public about the importance of preserving Zabid's historic buildings, as well as remove any violations, defamations and new developments.

The committee also is in charge of controlling Zabid via a monitoring and inspection team that will regularly monitor and prepare studies serving the city's preservation process. Further, it is to restore and rehabilitate traditional buildings, in addition to training engineering and crafty personnel.

In May, UNESCO threatened to drop Zabid from the World Heritage List unless the Yemeni government takes serious and quick action to protect the city's heritage and its old buildings.

UNESCO also gave a two-year time limit to secure the city. It further formed a technical team of experts to follow-up and report, explaining that if Yemen abides by the terms stipulated by UNESCO in this regard, they will keep Zabid on the list.

Abdullah Zaid Eyssa, chairman of the General Authority to Preserve Historic Cities told the Yemen Times that, if implemented, the decision of the ministers' council regarding Zabid is a very important and serious step. The committee assigned to follow up the issue of Zabid is also responsible for that so the Yemeni government will be able to carry out its international commitments in relation to preserving Zabid's heritage.

Zabid facts

Located 100 kilometers southwest of Sana'a on the Taiz-Hodeidah Road, Zabid sits 100 meters above sea level. The city's more than 20,000 residents live within its area of 92 hectares.

One of Yemen's Islamic capitals, Zabid played an important role in shaping scientific civilization and cultural heritage. Famed for its numerous scientific schools and its 84 mosques, numerous books in fields such as law, jurisprudence and language also were authored there.