Sun, Jul 01, 2018 - Page 5 News List

UNESCO adds Mideast, Asian sites to list

AFP, MANAMA

An undated handout photograph on Friday shows the Bibi Maryam Mausoleum in the ancient city of Qalhat, Oman.

Photo: EPA / UNESCO

UNESCO on Friday added Saudi Arabia’s al-Ahsa Oasis and Oman’s ancient city of Qalhat to its World Heritage List, the world cultural body said.

Saudi Arabia’s lush al-Ahsa oasis is dotted with yet-to-be-excavated archeological sites and carries traces of human occupation dating to Neolithic times.

Al-Ahsa “was a commercial center for the Hajar territory of Bahrain,” the Saudi submission says. “Archaeological evidence shows that it exchanged products from southern Arabia and Persia, as well as throughout the Arabian Peninsula.”

Oman’s Qalhat also dates back to pre-Islamic times. The port city on Oman’s Indian Ocean coast was once a key hub for trade in goods, from Arabian horses to Chinese porcelain, the Omani submission says.

The case of Qalhat also demonstrates the power women could hold in Arabian society at the time, it added.

“In the 13th century ... the governor Ayaz split his presence between Hormuz and Qalhat, which in his absence was ruled by his wife, Maryam,” the submission says. “She, Bibi Maryam, is said to have built the Great Friday Mosque and a mausoleum for her late husband. She continued ruling after her husband’s death until at least 1319.”

The designation is a prestigious one for the Gulf states, looking to make their mark as culturally rich, safe tourist destinations.

A dozen Christian locations in parts of southern Japan where members of the faith were once brutally persecuted were also selected for inclusion on the list.

The 12 sites include Oura Cathedral, a Catholic church in Nagasaki that is dedicated to 26 Christians who were executed for their beliefs more than four centuries ago.

The other locations in the Japanese entry include Sakitsu village in Amakusa, southwestern Kumamoto, where Christians practiced their faith in secret in the Edo period.

In South Korea, seven ancient mountain temples, which typify the way Buddhism in the nation has merged with indigenous beliefs and styles, were included.

The seven mountain temples — Seonamsa, Daeheungsa, Beopjusa, Magoksa, Tongdosa, Bongjeongsa, Buseoksa — were all established during the Three Kingdoms period that lasted until the seventh century.

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