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Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 31 Mar 2022 01:47 | Edited by: Solivagant 
We dont yet have a topic for this country so I have started one with this comment about the recent post made under the "2023 WHC" topic by winterkjm reporting that Marib might be nominated for 2023. The issue seems a wider one than just the 2023 WHC..

Archaeological Site of Marib (Yemen)

If indeed, Marib does get nominated for 2023, as this Yemeni news report indicates, it will be quite a surprise! I note that there hasn't been a subsequent news report to confirm that the end Jan deadline for submitting a final nomination was met - I guess we will have to await the papers of the 2022 meeting to discover if they did in the agenda item which lists sites for evaluation in the coming year.

Marib has not yet been reviewed on this site but we visited way back in 1996 and, since only 2 other community members have recorded a visit, neither of whom have ever posted a review, I thought that I would do so given that the site has been reported as "active for nomination". In so doing I have investigated the current state of the site insofar as information is available on the Web. Herewith the "situation".

a. Marib province is the last significant one in N Yemen still held by the internationally recognised government of Yemen. That "government" is of course fighting the "Houthi Rebels" and is supported in so doing by Saudi Arabia (KSA) - whilst the Houthis are being supported, inter alia by Iran in this "proxy war". The province directly borders, and has road access to/from KSA .
b. The province is a great prize not least because of its oil and gas wealth. Its main city, in its West and hence close to the Houthi controlled areas in the Western Yemeni mountainous "heartland", is a modern town of the same name which lies a few miles North and West of the archaeological remains which would be up for nomination - these include the Great Dam of Marib, The Temple of Awwam and the Barran Temple (a.k.a "Throne of Bilqis"). When we were there it was relatively insignificant (Oil/Gas had been discovered in the late 1980's and were still only just getting developed). Wiki states that its population in 2006 was still only 16794. Current estimates are over 1 million as it has been the centre for IDPs ("Internally displaced persons") to gather. This lengthy!) UN report shows the extent of the city now and the plans for it if and when peace were ever to return to the area.
d. The "Marib Campaign" has been taking place place there since 2015 (Wiki - "an ongoing military campaign taking place in the Yemeni civil war for the control of the Marib Governorate of Yemen. Fighting between the Houthi forces and factions of the Yemeni Army loyal to Supreme Political Council on one side, and Yemeni Army units loyal to president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and militiamen on the other side, took place since early 2015").
e. Since 2021 this has "hotted up" into what has been called "Battle of Marib" which is concentrating on the city itself (Wiki - "The Battle of Marib is an ongoing battle that erupted since February 2021 following the advance of the Houthis towards the city of Marib")
f. This 2018 report from NY Post (there are many others) gives a flavour of the impact on the Archaeological remains, and the subsequent 3/4 years, when the fighting has got closer to the city, won't have improved things. As the report indicates, UNESCO has tried to mediate protection for the Archaeological remains - but apparently without much success. KSA planes are blamed for the bombing of the Marib dam remains a few years ago.
g. One might have thought that an "emergency" nomination could have been proposed some years ago whilst the "legitimate government" had more control over the country. This would have sidestepped the need for full nomination files etc, but I can find no indication that it has ever been proposed. Now, in late 2021/2022 we discover that some authorities in the rump "internationally recognised but not in control of the country" government have been preparing a nomination during the battle for the city. To quote from the news report (auto translate from Arabic) "He stressed that the team made a great and wonderful effort in preparing historical data, maps, photos, drawings, and management and protection plans. The team also carried out a field visit during which it collected important data on the field reality of archaeological sites, and uploaded a number of maps, pictures, drawings and determinants of the spatial framework for each site". It sounds a bit "thin" despite all the "effort"!
h. One wonders how such a ("non emergency") nomination could be evaluated. Could ICOMOS representatives really evaluate in what is a war zone? And how would such a nomination be received by the WHC, not all of whom support the "Legitimate government". It might seem at this late stage to be more of a political ploy by a "government" potentially "on the way out" and wanting to show that it is still "doing things" rather than a genuine "cultural initiatative". In a few months we may find out more!

Author christravelblog
#2 | Posted: 8 Apr 2022 10:37 | Edited by: christravelblog 
Interesting Yemen, I just came back from Djibouti (visited all TWHS in 6 days more on that later), and got in contact with a fixer for Yemen. Mainly four the south eastern part. Shibam can be visited; and the 3 TWHS on the coast and near Oman. All in the west is off limits. (Socotra is open of course as well).
I also read about the 2023 nomination but I'm so sure how this can go for 2023?

Also, 3 days ago, the government resigned and a kind of committee has been put in place to rule and agree on peace. I have to read more on that what exactly happened this week in Yemen.

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