This month Unesco added three World Heritage Sites – all in the Middle East – to its register of places officially ‘in danger’
By Lizzie Porter
“My hotel has been closed since the middle of 2010. I lost it because of terrorist attacks. That building was part of my soul.”
Kais Ahmed Alkalisi owns the Sana’a Nights Hotel, housed in a beguiling old rammed earth and burnt brick palace laced in white, in the Yemeni capital.
“The first reaction of tourists about Old Sana’a was that it was an open museum; they feel that this city has some of the magic of the 1,001 nights,” he said.
But this month Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, declared the Old City of Sana’a officially a world heritage site “in danger”. The heart of the Yemeni capital was one of three places added to the list of 48 sites under threat around the world, at the annual Unesco Committee conference in Germany. The others were the Old Walled City of Shibam in western Yemen, and Hatra in Iraq: all victims of the Middle East’s manifold conflicts.