UNESCO's World Heritage Committee on Saturday inscribed historic Jeddah - the Gate to Makkah in Saudi Arabia, and other sites in Iraq, Japan and the Netherlands on the World Heritage List.
During its 38th meeting in Doha under the Chair of Sheikha Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the committee decided to include in the list, besides Jeddah, Irbil Citadel (Iraq), Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites (Japan), and Van Nellefabriek (the Netherlands).
The decision, recognizing the exceptional historical value of the cities, followed hours of debates by the 21 members of the committee on the bids of various cities and the recommendations of Council on Monuments and Sites (ECOMOS).
Historic Jeddah - the Gate to Makkah, is situated on the eastern shore of the Red Sea. From the seventh century A.D.; it was established as a major port for Indian Ocean trade routes, channeling goods to Makkah.
It was also the gateway for Muslim pilgrims to Makkah who arrived by sea.
These twin roles saw the city develop into a thriving multicultural centre, characterized by a distinctive architectural tradition, including tower houses built in the late 19th century by the city's mercantile elites, and combining Red Sea coastal coral building traditions with influences and crafts from along the trade routes.
Irbil Citadel is a fortified settlement on the top of an imposing ovoid-shaped tell (a hill created by many generations of people living and rebuilding on the same spot); it is located in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Irbil Governorate.
A continuous wall of tall 19th century facades still conveys the visual impression of an impregnable fortress, dominating the city of Irbil, according to a UNESCO press release.
The Citadel features a peculiar fan-like pattern, dating back to Irbil's late Ottoman phase. Written and iconographic historical records document the antiquity of settlement on the site - Irbil corresponds to ancient Arbela, an important Assyrian political and religious centre - while archaeological finds and investigations suggest that the mound conceals the levels and remains of previous settlements.
Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites is an historic sericulture and silk mill complex established in 1872 in the Gunma Prefecture north west of Tokyo.
Built by the Japanese Government with machinery imported from France, it consists of four sites that attest to the different stages in the production of raw silk: production of cocoons in an experimental farm; a cold storage facility for silkworm eggs; reeling of cocoons and spinning of raw silk in a mill; and a school for the dissemination of sericulture knowledge.
Van Nellefabriek was designed and built in the 1920s on the banks of a canal in the Spaanse Polder industrial zone northwest of Rotterdam.
The site is one of the icons of 20th century industrial architecture, comprising a complex of factories, with facades consisting essentially of steel and glass, making large-scale use of the curtain wall principle.
The 38th session of the World Heritage Committee began on June 15 and will continue through to June 25.