UNESCO lists Iraq's Babylon as World Heritage Site

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A view of the Ishtar Gate at the ancient archaeological site of Babylon, south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (File/AFP)
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A general view of the ancient archaeological site of Babylon, south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (File/ AFP)
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A view of the Ishtar Gate at the ancient archaeological site of Babylon, south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (File/AFP)
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A general view of the ancient archaeological site of Babylon, south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (File/AFP)
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a man walks in front of Ishtar Gate at the archaeological site of Babylon, Iraq. (File/AP)
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A general view of the ancient archaeological site of Babylon, south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (File/ AFP)
Updated 05 July 2019

UNESCO lists Iraq's Babylon as World Heritage Site

  • The committee met in Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku to consider Babylon and another 34 sites, including in Brazil and Burkina Faso, for the World Heritage List
  • It opted not to designate Babylon as the World Heritage in Danger after objections from Iraq

BAGHDAD: UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee voted on Friday to list the sprawling Mesopotamian metropolis of Babylon as a World Heritage Site after three decades of lobbying efforts by Iraq.
Iraq had been trying since 1983 to have the site — a massive 10-square-kilometer complex of which just 18 percent has been excavated thus far — recognized by UNESCO.
Straddling Iraq’s Euphrates River about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad, the city was the center of the ancient Babylonian empire more than 4,000 years ago.
“What is the world heritage list without Babylon? How to tell the history of humanity without the earliest of old chapters, Babylon?” said Iraq’s representative to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee ahead of the vote.
The committee met in Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku to consider Babylon and another 34 sites, including in Brazil and Burkina Faso, for the World Heritage List.
It opted not to designate Babylon as the World Heritage in Danger after objections from Iraq.
“Babylon is the largest populated city in ancient history,” said Qahtan Al-Abeed, who heads the Basra Antiquities Department and led efforts to get the site listed.
“The Babylonians were the civilization of writing, administration and science,” he told AFP.
Putting Babylon on the World Heritage List “will encourage research and development of the site,” and would “be free publicity for tourists,” he added excitedly.
Babylon occupies a special place in religion, appearing in the Bible, Hebrew scripture, and even mythical prophecies.
It developed as a walled city of temples and towers made of mudbrick and known internationally for its hanging gardens, the Tower of Babel, and the Ishtar Gate.


Lebanon struggles to restore normality amid protests

Anti-government protesters shout slogans against the Lebanese government in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. (AP)
Updated 13 min 4 sec ago

Lebanon struggles to restore normality amid protests

  • The ISG urged Lebanese authorities to address people’s complaints, demanding “structural reforms and responsible and acceptable social changes that truly curb corruption and waste, away from sectarianism

BEIRUT: Lebanese banks will remain closed in light of nationwide protests for the fifth consecutive day, the Association of Banks in Lebanon announced.
However, Banque du Liban, the country’s central bank, on Tuesday provided banks with money from their deposits in order to meet citizens’ needs.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Akram Chehayeb ordered all schools and universities to resume classes on Wednesday “in order to preserve the interests of students and to preserve the academic year.”
Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with the International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon, which includes envoys from the US, Russia, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the EU, China and the Arab League, as well as the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis.
The ISG urged Lebanese authorities to address people’s complaints, demanding “structural reforms and responsible and acceptable social changes that truly curb corruption and waste, away from sectarianism.”
Such changes, it said, should “ensure proper governance and full accountability, and lead to sustainable and stable growth.”

FASTFACT

International Support Group urges govt to implement ‘structural reforms.’

Kubis said Hariri “committed that the government and its legitimate security forces will continue to protect civilians who are demonstrating peacefully, and will take appropriate measures against any possible violent incitement, to protect public and private property and institutions, and the people’s right to peacefully express their views.”
On behalf of the ISG, Kubis urged “officials and political actors in Lebanon to listen to the legitimate demands of the people, work with them on solutions, apply them, and refrain from any statements and acts that could inflame tensions and incite confrontation and violence.”
After meeting Hariri, Kuwait’s ambassador to Lebanon, Abdel Aal Al-Kinai, said: “Now is not the time to speak but to act.”