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UNESCO declares World Heritage site in Sudan

by Toby Collins

June 27, 2011 (LONDON) – UNESCO declared on Saturday that the archaeological sites of the Island of Meroe, 200km north of Khartoum, are to be declared a World Heritage site.

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Meroe - World Heritage Site (AFP)

In the 35th meeting of the UNESCO Committee in Paris which began on Saturday will be concluded on Wednesday. Thus far 35 sites across the world have been identified as worthy of the special status which entitles them to funding and conservation, to preserve them for posterity.

The Island of Meroe is between the Nile and Atbara rivers and was the heartland of the Kingdom of Kush – a powerful Nubian empire which ran from the Mediterranean to central Africa from the 8 BC - 4 AD. The Kushite kings ruled as Pharaohs of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt for a century, until they were expelled by Psamtik I in 656 BC.

The property testifies to the exchange between the art, architectures, religions and languages of both regions.”

According to the UNESCO statement, the property, which “testifies to the exchange between the art, architectures, religions and languages of both regions” consists of “the royal city of the Kushite kings at Meroe [...] the nearby religious site of Naqa and Musawwarat es Sufra and features, among other vestiges, pyramids, temples and domestic buildings as well as major installations connected to water management.”

Due to insecurity and poor infrastructure, Sudan’s tourism industry remains underdeveloped. Neighbouring Egypt, which currently has seven World Heritage sites, had 12,000,000 tourists in 2008, in comparison to Sudan’s 400,000. However, Sudan has an abundance of potential tourist attractions, which could be an invaluable source of revenue.

(ST)