Save Sana'a


Building in Sana'aAt the end of the civil war in 1972, the Yemeni government passed a law to protect its architectural and archaeological heritage, with particular reference to the old city of Sana'a. But the government's resources were very limited. UNESCO also wished to help to preserve what could still be saved of Sana'a, and in 1980 its General Conference adopted a resolution authorizing the Director-General to collaborate with the Yemeni government in drawing up a plan of action for the preservation and restoration of the old city. In 1981 and 1982, architects, historians, sociologists and engineers were mobilized to study the problems posed by the safeguard of a site which, it was felt, should not be mummified but given new life in accordance with its old traditions.


United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization - stamp World Heritage Sana'a, 1984By 1983 the plan had been approved by the Yemeni government and UNESCO, and its implementation began. In December 1984, before the city's inclusion on the World Heritage List which did not take place until 1987), the restoration and safeguard of Sana'a were placed by presidential decree under the authority of a High Committee chaired by the Prime Minister. The Director-General of UNESCO launched an appeal to the international community to help the Yemeni government carry out a rescue operation with an estimated cost of 300 million dollars.


Several countries responded to UNESCO's appeal. Italy played an active Entrance gate of Sana'apart in pluridisciplinary studies connected with the rescue operation and became the first country to take part in the rehabilitation of an entire district of the old city. Its example was followed by the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, France, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland and Japan, and by the United Nations Development Programme, whose contribution notably sought to revive traditions of craftsmanship.


In June 1988, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Federico Mayor, visited Sana'a to get a first-hand impression of the extent and complexity of the task.





Article 'Sana'a, the pearl of Arabia' from UNESCO Courier, October 1991.

Article on the conservation of Sana'a by T. Luke Young.

The UNESCO Sana'a Medal issued in 1987.



Stamp catalogue


Tunisia                        21 September 1988









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last revised: 14 February 2008