More than 300 of the Citadel’s ancient houses are being restored according to precise architectural standards, and excavation is underway to dig deeper into the city’s history. Photo Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which is trying to develop as a tourist destination, hopes to add the ancient Citadel of Erbil to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
“The High Committee for Erbil Citadel states that it is still hopeful for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites to include the ancient Citadel of Erbil in their well-regarded list as the UN body convenes later this month,” said the committee in a statement.
It also denied news that UNESCO has rejected Erbil’s bid for membership before the June convention.
“In recent days, the Kurdish media outlets reported that the non-governmental organization of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) has rejected Erbil Citadel’s bid for membership, since the Citadel did not meet the criteria required for such association,” said the statement.
It explained that, while ICOMOS is associated with UNESCO, it does not take the decision to include a site or a monument in the UNESCO list.
The statement also added that ICOMOS representatives had visited the Kurdistan Region and completed a report on behalf of UNESCO about the Erbil Citadel, in which they made recommendations to Kurdish authorities about preservation and promotion of the Citadel.
“The High Committee for Erbil Citadel will continue its work, but also implement the recommendations of the ICOMOS. It is our aim to include the Citadel in the list of the World Heritage Sites as soon as it becomes possible. The World Heritage Sites will convene in June this year, but even if the decision is not made then, we hope it will include our Erbil Citadel into its list in the future conventions,” the statement said.
The Erbil Citadel is recognized as the world’s longest continuously-inhabited city, dating back more than 7,000 years. In addition, Kurdistan has a rich heritage of 3,000 known archaeological sites.
In 2007, officials established the High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalization, which subsequently signed an agreement with UNESCO to implement a “Conservation Master Plan.” More than 300 of its houses are being restored according to precise architectural standards, and excavation is underway to dig deeper into the city’s history.
Erbil has been nominated the Arab Tourism Capital of 2014. The Kurdistan Region envisages luring seven million visitors in a strategic plan for 2013-2025, with expected earnings of $2.17 billion from tourism.
The number of tourists visiting the Kurdistan Region has already risen by 30 percent and among them are more Europeans and Americans, according to data from the Kurdistan Board of Tourism.
Kurdistan remains an anomaly for its security, stability and economic boom, as the rest of Iraq writhes in an unending cycle of violence and devastation.
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