Saudi Arabia to host 2023 Unesco World Heritage Committee in Riyadh

The announcement was made at an extraordinary meeting at Unesco's headquarters in Paris

A Nabataean tomb at Hegra, Saudi Arabia's first Unesco World Heritage site. AFP
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Saudi Arabia is set to host this year's Unesco’s World Heritage Committee in September, after the country was unanimously voted committee chair, the Saudi Press Agency said on Wednesday.

Home to Saudi Arabia's World Heritage Site Al-Turaif, Riyadh will host the committee from September 10 to 25.

The World Heritage Committee will be chaired by Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to Unesco and the chairwoman of the organisation’s programmes and external relations committee.

The announcement was made at the 18th extraordinary meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Paris, which also voted to add historic sites in Yemen, Lebanon and Ukraine to the Unesco's List of World Heritage in Danger.

Just after the announcement, Princess Haifa tweeted: “Saudi Arabia’s capital and my home, Riyadh, will host a monumental gathering of world leaders in September of this year."

Princess Haifa also said: "I am proud today of accrediting Saudi Arabia as chairman of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, and for hosting of the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee for the first time in September." She said the move was a result of the kingdom’s role in supporting heritage, in line with the goals of the World Heritage Committee.

Meanwhile, the permanent delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Unesco tweeted: "A dedicated Unesco member state since the very beginning, this decisive move is an opportunity for the kingdom to further promote the protection, promotion and preservation of cultural heritage."

The Unesco World Heritage Committee is composed of representatives from 21 states, elected by the General Assembly, who assess proposals from states that wish to place their sites on the World Heritage List. Originally scheduled to take place in Russia last June, the 45th expanded session was postponed following the invasion of Ukraine.

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Updated: January 26, 2023, 2:02 PM