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These new MENA sites added to World Heritage Sites for 2023

Palestine’s Jericho, among others, have been named in the list.

These new MENA sites added to World Heritage Sites for 2023
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

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Since the 1970s, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has curated a list of sites that seek to highlight places worldwide with cultural, historical, or scientific significance. Not only does it spotlight these sites, but it also calls for preserving the areas.

This year, UNESCO announced sites included in its World Heritage List 2023, some coming from the MENA region. 

One of the sites listed is Palestine’s ancient Jericho, also known as Tell es-Sultan, which dates back to 10,000 B.C. and is one of the world’s oldest towns. Located 1.5 kilometers north of what is now modern Jericho and 10 kilometers northwest of the Dead Sea in Jordan, it is the lowest ancient town on earth.   

Tunisia’s Djerba, North Africa’s largest island stretching 514 square kilometers across the Gulf of Gabes, also made the list. It has a landscape encompassing a combination of desert, coastal areas, and rural fields while also being filled with ruins from the ancient Carthaginian and Roman empires. 

Tunisia’s Minister of Culture, Hayet Guettat-Guermazi, said, “The island of Djerba testifies to universal world heritage. This is a historic moment for us. Our property is helping to send a strong signal of brotherhood and universality. We believe diversity is a source of wealth, and we believe in the human genius which allows us to overcome challenges.”

A citadel known as Gordion in Turkey was similarly added to the list, with the site being 70 kilometers southwest of Ankara. Gordion is best known as the capital of Phygria, with ruins involving 150 wooden burial mounds, such as the 50-meter-high Midas Mound Tumulus from 740 BC, which houses the oldest standing wooden structure on the planet.

From Azerbaijan/Iran, the Hyrcanian Forests have been included in the round-up. The forests stretch 850 kilometers from the Talysh Mountains in Azerbaijan to the Alborz Mountains in Golestan, Iran. The list also includes Iran’s Persian Caravanserai, a road similar to the Silk Road along trade routes. 

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