Khirfan. World heritage, urban design and tourism : three cities in the Middle East


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WORLD HERITAGE, URBAN
To my mother Yusrā and my nephews: Hāshem, ‘Alī, Ja‘far and Jawād
World Heritage, Urban
NA K
IRFAN
University of Waterloo, Canada

Wey Court East

VT 05401-3818
Surrey, GU9 7PT

www.ashgate.com
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
World heritage, urban design and tourism : three cities in the Middle East / by Luna Khirfan.
7201-8 (epub) 1. World Heritage areas--Conservation and restoration--Middle East. 2. Historic
tourism--Middle East. 7. Aleppo (Syria)--Antiquities. 8. Salt (Jordan)--Antiquities. 9. Acre (Israel)--
Antiquities. 10. Middle East--Antiquities. I. Title.
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
Note on Transliteration
List of Foreign Words
PART I
T
Historic Urban Landscapes: World Heritage and the Contradictions of Tourism
PART II
3 Documentation
Value
4 Place-making
Public Participation in World Heritage Planning: From Evolution to Implementation
PART III
6 Place
7 Conclusions

The Citadel of Aleppo is at the centre of the historic urban landscape
The monumental corridor leading to the Citadel of Aleppo

The contemporary automobile roads that traversed the historic quarters of Aleppo


‘Aqabet al-Ḥaddādīn
(stairway) and adjacent houses showing semi-private
The Crusader and the Ottoman layers of Acre

The entrance to the Citadel – or
– of Aleppo and its forti�cations rendered it

World
Tourism
A fresh �sh shop in Acre’s
sūq
’s home in Acre

The notes made by the planners and the tourism entrepreneurs during a workshop

in Acre
116
A sketch of Aleppo’s urban elements by one of its inhabitants

Dilapidated buildings in the core of al-Salt

Donkeys are used for garbage collection along the winding
of al-Salt

The harbour of Acre

A snippet of local particularisms in Acre’s
sūq
A snippet of local particularisms in Acre’s residential
A fresco representing Acre in one of the houses that exempli�es Bacon’s (1982: 30) notion

List of Tables
The inscription criteria for Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre

A summary of the participatory processes in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre

118
Some of the comments by the local inhabitants of Aleppo on the most beautiful elements of
their city

The comments offered by the international tourists as they made their choices regarding the
most distinctive urban elements of Acre

List of Abbreviations
Computer-aided design
Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit meaning Agency for Technical Cooperation.
It was renamed GIZ which stands for Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
on 1 January 2011
Japan International Cooperation Agency
Non-governmental organization
World Heritage Committee
The Convention
UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and
UNESCO United
Organization
United States Agency for International Development
Note on Transliteration
List of Foreign Words
Aghrāb
‘Akkā
The Arabic name of Acre
‘Akkō
The Hebrew name of Acre
‘Amidār


‘Atiqot
Hebrew for Antiquities, and used locally to refer to the
Israel Antiquities Authority
Balgāwiyye



Traditional line dance

Darwīsh
Typically, a Su� aspirant, however, in the colloquial Levantine


Ḥakawāti
ḥāret


Traditional long dress, typically worn by men

Khandaq




al-jāmi‘

The city

Israel Land Administration
Mukhtār

Mustashfā

Qasr
Sabīl
Water fountain


in al-Salt
 All foreign words are in Arabic unless otherwise noted.
World
Tourism
Salṭiyye

Sarsariyye
Sharī‘a
Shukran
Shūk
This book evolved from a research project that was initially conducted for a doctoral dissertation at the
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the USA. For nearly a decade since the inception of this research
project in 2004, it has expanded, drawing in the process on additional resources. Throughout the evolution of
the research project that paved the way for this book, I have been fortunate to receive support and assistance
from various sources. Several organizations and institutions provided �nancial support that proved crucial for
conducting the �eldwork in the three case study cities in three different countries. I am deeply grateful for the
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
and the Museum Studies Program at the University of Michigan; the Fulbright program at the Jordanian
American Commission for Educational Exchange; and the American Association of University Women. The
Columbia University Middle East Research Center in Amman allowed me, through a visiting fellowship
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
her husband Bashār al-‘Amad and of course to my wonderful mother Yusrā al-Zu‘bī: I thank each and every
Lastly, but certainly not least, the lovely people in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre who welcomed me into their
homes and shops, shared their problems and aspirations and taught me valuable lessons in modesty, adaptation,
PART I
Historic Urban Landscapes: World Heritage and the
Contradictions of Tourism
The Evolution of World Heritage
An awareness of the value of the built heritage was heightened following the First World War and the
destruction of numerous historically signi�cant monuments in Europe and beyond. The notion of what
came to be known as ‘world heritage’ evolved in 1959 when Egypt appealed to the international community,
represented by the United Nations Educational, Scienti�c and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to save
numerous archaeological monuments in Nubia between Sudan and Egypt that were threatened by imminent
�ooding due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam. UNESCO spearheaded the international efforts
to relocate the temple of Abu Simbel in which experts from around the globe participated. These experts
also contributed to the excavation and the documentation of multiple other sites affected by the �ooding
(Hassan, 2007: 89). In addition, UNESCO garnered international �nancial support from nearly 50 countries
that collectively contributed half of the total US $80 million required for these efforts (UNESCO World
Heritage Centre, 2008). This incident ‘established a precedent in which the concept of “world heritage” has
emerged as a principal notion in archaeological circles’ (Hassan, 2007: 89). Simultaneously, however, this
same notion of a collective world heritage also created a sense of entitlement among the donor countries
that demanded to acquire half of all the archaeological �nds in Nubia. Consequently, entire structures
were dispersed across museums around the world, including the Temple of Dandur that is exhibited in the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Temple of Ellesiya that sits in the Egyptian Museum of
Turin (Säve-Söderberg, 1987). Several other international campaigns followed at other sites such as Venice
in Italy and Mohenjodaro in Pakistan (Hassan, 2007; UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2008) throughout
which the notion of world heritage gained further prominence until it was eventually cemented through the
UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (henceforth the
Convention). The General Conference – UNESCO’s governing body – adopted the Convention in November
of 1972 (UNESCO, 1972). Thereafter, UNESCO established the World Heritage Center and entrusted it to
coordinate with the State Parties – that is member states that had rati�ed the Convention – on all matters
related to the World Heritage List. The World Heritage Center directs the preparation of tentative lists; the
nomination and inscription on the World Heritage List; the management of international and emergency
assistance; the organization of training courses; and the monitoring activities (UNESCO, 1992–2014a). Three
advisory bodies offer expert assistance to UNESCO and the World Heritage Center: the International Council
on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and
Restoration of Cultural Property
(ICCROM) advise on issues related to the conservation of cultural heritage
including training (UNESCO 2008) while the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
A committee known as the World Heritage Committee
(henceforth, the Committee) was entrusted with
establishing and de�ning the criteria for inscription on the World Heritage List (UNESCO, 1972: Articles 11.2
and 11.5). At the request of this Committee, the conservation experts at ICOMOS prepared in 1976 a document
titled the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (henceforth, the
Operational Guidelines). In this document, two sets of criteria were speci�ed for inscription on the World
 UNESCO established ICCROM in 1964 at the Second International Congress of Architects and Technicians of
 The World Heritage Committee is composed of representatives of 21 State Parties who are elected on six-year terms
by the General Assembly. The Committee meets annually.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Heritage List: six for cultural heritage and four for natural heritage (Jokilehto et al., 2008; UNESCO, 1977:
Article 5.ii). Between 1977 and 2013 the Operational Guidelines underwent 16 revisions, and they continue
to play a signi�cant role in regulating all the procedures pertaining to world heritage (UNESCO, 1977;
UNESCO, 1978). Each State Party is encouraged to generate an inventory – a tentative list – of all the
properties that it may potentially seek to inscribe on the World Heritage List (UNESCO, 2008: Article 17.62).
Only properties that have been on the Tentative List for at least one year may be nominated for the World
Heritage List (UNESCO, 2008: Articles 62.67 and 62.128).
AlSayyad has observed that the term heritage ‘derives from the Old French
, meaning property
which devolves by right of inheritance in a process involving a series of linked hereditary successions’
(AlSayyad, 2001: 2). Indeed, UNESCO translated this notion of inherited property when it de�ned ‘cultural
heritage’ as consisting of one or a combination of ‘monuments, groups of buildings and sites’ (UNESCO
World Heritage Centre, 2008: 3). The Convention offered detailed de�nitions for each of these three elements
whereas monuments refer to ‘architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements
or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features which
are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science’. Likewise, groups of
buildings refer to ‘groups of separate or connected buildings which, because of their architecture, their
homogeneity or their place in the landscape, are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of
history, art or science’. And lastly, sites are the ‘works of man or the combined works of nature and man, and
areas including archaeological sites which are of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic,
ethnological or anthropological point of view’ (UNESCO, 1972: 3). Historic towns were typically included
within the ‘groups of buildings’ category until the 1987 Operational Guidelines, which, under ‘groups of
buildings’ distinguished between abandoned historic towns, inhabited historic towns and contemporary towns
(UNESCO, 1987: Article 24.i, ii and iii). Then in 2011 the Records of the General Conference of UNESCO
proposed a Recommendation for Historic Urban Landscapes (UNESCO, 2011a), which eventually yielded
‘A New International Instrument: the proposed UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape
(HUL)’ (UNESCO, 2011b).
The World Heritage List and the Historic Urban Landscape
While a successful inscription on the World Heritage List is a signi�cant feat, the world heritage status brings
about a profound effect on the historic city, bringing to bear interventions that signi�cantly affect it physically,
morphologically and socio-culturally. Most notably is the attention that world heritage destinations attract
from the tourism industry especially, the in�ux of tourists and the irreversible negative impacts of tourism
development (Di Giovine, 2009; Rakić and Chambers, 2007). Unmanageably large tourist numbers are
especially problematic for historic cities, where entry controls such as fees are dif�cult to impose (Frey and
Steiner, 2010: 10). Furthermore, sites that are inscribed on the World Heritage List receive only minimum
from UNESCO
(UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2008). Given that thus far 238 cities have been
inscribed on the World Heritage List (The Organization of World Heritage Cities, 2011), there is a dire need
to address the �nancial challenges of urban conservation and development and devise methods that balance
the needs of the local communities and the international tourists (Rakić, 2007). Indeed, one can detect such a
need by tracing the activities of numerous institutions and organizations that have been founded to aid cities
inscribed on the World Heritage List, including the Organization for World Heritage Cities
(The Organization
of World Heritage Cities, 2011). Also, because UNESCO was ‘concerned by the multitude of World Heritage
Cities facing dif�culties in reconciling conservation and development’, it founded in 1996 the World Heritage
Cities Programme (UNESCO, 1992–2014a; also personal correspondence with Kirsten Manz from the World
Heritage Cities Programme). These concerns had surfaced in the wake of the debates over the Wien-Mitte
 This funding, which can also be used in cases of emergency, ranges between US $5,000 and US $75,000 and is
authorized by the director of the World Heritage Centre or the Chairperson of the Committee. In the cases where higher
World Heritage Center, 2008).
Historic Urban Landscapes: World Heritage and the Contradictions of Tourism
train station in Vienna, Austria – a city on the World Heritage List – where a contemporary structure was
designed (van Oers, 2010). Consequently, the World Heritage Center organized a conference titled ‘World
Heritage and Contemporary Architecture – Managing the Historic Urban Landscape’ in Vienna in May 2005.
The participants adopted what came to be known as the Vienna Memorandum that outlined the ‘principles
 This happened during the Committee’s 29th session in July 2005, which was held in Durban, South Africa (van
 Tourism is distinguished from hospitality whereby the latter is the business of hosting tourists, and includes
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
are known as the ‘three “Un”-myths’ namely, the unchanged, the unrestrained and the uncivilized (Echtner
and Prasad, 2003). Historic urban landscapes in developing countries, with their distinctively local aura,
are perceived as timeless and static in past times in a typical manifestation of the myth of the unchanged
(Echtner and Prasad, 2003: 668–9). Experience-based urban heritage tourism intimates that the sense of place
ensues from both contemporary and historic processes, which, combined, contribute to a distinctive place
experience. Interestingly, planning thus far lacks the tools that enable us to de�ne what elements constitute
a distinctive experience of the historic urban landscape, and by extension, what tools enable us to evaluate
these experiential elements. Such gaps in the analytical capacity render it dif�cult to plan for the future
sustainability of these experiences. These challenges act in concert with additional limitations on the supply
side, as historic urban destinations strive to differentiate their distinctiveness in an increasingly competitive
global market through deploying a triad of place-making strategies that includes image marketing, urban
rehabilitation and tourism development (Gold and Gold, 1995). Collectively, these strategies fashion place
distinctiveness either prior to or after the arrival of the tourists at the historic city. Prior to their arrival,
image marketing in�uences the destination choices of potential tourists by demonstrating the historic urban
landscape’s unique selling preposition (USP) or its distinctiveness. Once these tourists arrive at the historic
city, their experiences are shaped through interventions that include historic conservation, urban design and
urban rehabilitation as well as tourism development. Thus, as I argue throughout this book, experience-based
tourism in the historic urban landscape bears two normative planning implications. John Friedmann and
Barclay Hudson (1974: 3) had explained that normative planning traditions pose ‘prescriptive concerns’ and
tend ‘to assume explicit value positions’. Accordingly, the implications of experience-based tourism on the
historic urban landscape – that is, the supply side – necessitate that planning provides the tourists with a
distinctive place experience that includes, in addition to the built heritage, the various processes of the local
inhabitants’ lives and their relationship to their historic urban landscape. These implications also entail that
planning must integrate, and cater for, the expectations and needs of the international tourists in tandem with
those of the local communities. Once converted into planning practices, these implications generate four
The �rst of these conditions arises from the high �xed costs associated with the various place-making
efforts in an attempt to develop tourism in historic cities, including the conservation of historic structures,
the rehabilitation of historic urban landscapes and the provision of tourism infrastructure. To begin with,
image marketing, which targets potential tourists prior to their arrival at the destination, capitalizes on the
destination’s unique selling preposition – its distinctive identity (Holloway and Robinson, 1995; Kotler
et al., 1993). Image marketing seeks to increase the tourists’ numbers, their length of stay and eventually
their spending (Bosselman et al., 1999). Next, and in order to cater for the expectations and needs of tourists
within the historic urban landscape, tourism infrastructure is developed to provide an array of services such
as accommodation, catering and attractions. Concurrently, historic conservation, urban design and urban
rehabilitation attempt to ensure a visually engaging and distinctive experience of the historic urban landscape.
But due to the dif�culty in establishing entry fees for wider historic urban landscapes, the ensuing externalities
are mostly borne not by the tourists, but by the local inhabitants (Graham, 2002: 1013–14). In a continual
cycle, these costs are then partly offset through a pro�t-motivated planning approach that aims to further
increase the tourists’ numbers, their length of stay and, eventually, their spending (see for example: Ashworth
and Voogd, 1990; Ashworth and Tunbridge, 1990; Bosselman et al., 1999; Chang et al., 1996; Fyall and
Rakić, 2006; Nuryanti, 1996; Rakić and Chambers, 2007; Robinson, 1999; Tunbridge and Ashworth, 1996;
Wahab and Pigram, 1997).
The second condition stems from the contradictory nature of urban heritage tourism as an industry that
depends on global demand for distinctively local products (Harvey, 2001). In response to market demand, the
aforementioned triad of place-making strategies is deployed to commodify cultural items, the historic urban
 According to Echtner and Prasad (2003), the other two ‘un’-myths refer to the myth of the unrestrained and the
myth of the uncivilized. The former is related to beach destinations such as Cuba, Fiji and Jamaica that are resort-based
whose remarkable weather and landscape represent paradise where tourists indulge without restrain in the pleasures of
life. The latter refers to primordial places that lack any form of civilization manifest in the absolute absence of built
environment, and where nature is savage and untamed especially, in frontier countries like Ecuador, Kenya and Namibia.
Historic Urban Landscapes: World Heritage and the Contradictions of Tourism
landscape in this case, as tourism products (Judd and Fainstein, 1999). Such commodi�cation transforms
the historic urban landscape into an economic good – that is, a tourism product – that is subject to market
exchange and exploitation (Ashworth and Voogd, 1990; Fainstein and Gladstone, 1999). When transferred
to the urban heritage tourism realm, commodi�cation becomes ‘the process whereby ways of life, traditions
and the complex symbolism which supports these, are imaged and transformed into saleable products’
(Robinson, 1999:11). The resulting image, which usually highlights the unique selling preposition of the
historic urban landscape as ‘unchanged’, is then communicated through image marketing (Beriatos and
Gospodini, 2004; Ward, 1998). But while these saleable products must demonstrate local distinctiveness, they
must simultaneously comply with the expectations and needs of tourists who come from diverse backgrounds
(Grunewald, 2002). The results are twofold, a need for legitimization and Disney�cation. The former requires
local representations to be both comprehensible and acceptable to international tourists (Dahles, 2001).
The latter entails standardization and quality control that homogenize historic urban landscapes across the
globe, hence erasing all signs of place distinctiveness (Boniface and Fowler, 1993). This is evidenced by
the international standardization of historic conservation interventions and urban design measures that are
producing similar outcomes across different historic urban landscapes, thus eliminating their individually
local qualities (Beriatos and Gospodini, 2004; Graham, 2002). Indeed, UNESCO considers standard-setting
to be one of its most important mandates in the management of cultural heritage (UNESCO, 2011c). Others
have critiqued the World Heritage List as the material outcome of a ‘metacultural production’ of heritage
that overlooks local particularities (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, 2004). Together, legitimization and Disney�cation
shape the historic urban landscape – and eventually its experience – according to the expectations and needs
of the international tourists rather than according to its local reality, and, hence, they incorporate a level of
staging and lack of authenticity (see for example: Graham et al., 2000; Nuryanti, 1996; Sternberg, 1999,
Taylor, 2001; Upton, 2001). Legitimization and Disney�cation also alienate the local inhabitants of these
historic urban landscapes especially when their socio-economic and cultural realities differ signi�cantly from
the objectives of the economically driven planning process that prioritizes the needs of the international
tourists at the expense of their own needs. Ultimately, this leads the local inhabitants and the international
tourists to differently experience the historic urban landscape.
The third condition is brought on by the fact that, in developing countries in particular, it is the national
entities that control the development and the marketing of tourism resources – that is the primary attractions –
which inherently excludes, or at best minimizes, the input of the local inhabitants in the processes of tourism
planning and place production (Harvey, 2001; Robinson, 2001). This condition is particularly relevant for
cities inscribed on the World Heritage List where the nomination, inscription and management processes
underscore their status as national property (Scholze, 2008: 216–17). Nation-states thus view their World
Heritage assets, particularly historic cities, as symbols of national identity (Shackley, 2000) and market
them as representations of a collective identity – overlooking in the process the complex diversity within
them (Scholze, 2008). Ideally, in order to gain a competitive edge in the global tourism market, marketing
succeeds when it communicates the diversity of local self-representations, which collectively shape the
unique character of an historic urban landscape – a challenging feat for nation-states that typically suppress
those local self-representations that do not comply with their agendas (Herzfeld, 2004; Mitchell, 1995). Thus
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
The fourth and last condition arises when the nation-state perceives the local inhabitants of historic urban
landscapes through the lens of assets and liabilities. Even in the rare cases when the local inhabitants are
considered as ‘an important part of the product’ (Kotler et al., 1993: 135), the national entities ground their
 Throughout this book, the discussion speci�cally pertains to the historic cores of these cities and not to their
Historic Urban Landscapes: World Heritage and the Contradictions of Tourism
historic urban landscapes, of urban conservation and rehabilitation, contemporary urban design and tourism
development. Speci�cally, this book offers insights on the processes of place-making and place experience
from the perspectives of the planners and policy-makers, the local inhabitants and the international tourists.
This book is divided into three parts. As a preamble to the subsequent parts on place-making and place
experience, Part I provides the context for the contemporary plans and projects whereby Chapter 2 offers
the historic context through an historic and morphological overview of the three case study cities. By tracing
their histories, this overview also offers the setting for the contemporary place-making plans and projects in
Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre and which the subsequent chapters delve further into. Moreover, from the general
characteristics of cities in
– that is, the Levant – to the speci�c qualities of each of Aleppo,
al-Salt and Acre, this chapter provides an insight into some of the aspects that contribute to these cities’
distinctiveness whether architectural, morphological or socio-cultural and economic traits. Chapter 3 builds
on this discussion by introducing the notions of heritage value, signi�cance and the outstanding universal
value pertaining to the World Heritage List. Through archival research, this chapter traces the evolution of
these notions in the heritage debate in general and the world heritage discourse in particular. It then discusses
the onset of the contemporary plans and projects in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre and speci�cally highlights the
initial documentation phase in each. In particular, this chapter presents the links between the documentation
approach in each city’s contemporary plans and the ultimate goals and objectives of these plans. This chapter
also revisits each city’s outstanding universal value and its criteria for inscription on the World Heritage List
Part II of this book delves into the place-making processes. Chapter 4 discusses the plans and their
associated projects in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre. In particular, this chapter situates the contemporary plans
within the world heritage discourse and highlights the choices for intervention strategies. It then follows
with a detailed investigation of the choices made in each city’s plans and projects. Chapter 5 expands on
this discussion and traces the evolution of the public participation in the world heritage discourse vis-à-vis
the urban planning discourse. It then relates this discussion to how public engagement and participatory
planning were tackled in each city’s place-making plans and strategies. Lastly, Part III of this book explores
the place experience aspects that ensue from a combination of these cities’ histories, values and signi�cance
and place-making initiatives whether historic or contemporary. In particular, Chapter 6 attempts to de�ne
place experience and to identify the various elements that contribute to it. It distinguishes the Experience and
Experiential modes of tourism from the other modes and links them to historic urban landscapes. In order
to identify and assess the elements of place experience, I develop a theoretical framework that draws on the
theories of urban design, environmental psychology and humanistic geography. The proposed theoretical
framework identi�es three processes – cultural, social and spatial – that contribute to a distinctive place
experience, and it also identi�es their measurable elements. This proposed theoretical framework considers
the historic urban landscape as the interface between the tourists and the local inhabitants hence, through
determining the variables for each of the three processes it is possible to compare the simultaneous experience
of the historic city as a tourist destination and as a living place. Thus, for each city, Chapter 6 compares the
place experiences for the local inhabitants, the international tourists and the planners and then contrasts them
with the objectives and goals of the recent plans and projects. Finally, Chapter 7 offers the conclusions as well
as a postscript on the current situation in Aleppo given the ongoing con�ict in Syria. Prior to delving into the
following parts and chapters, the next section presents a summary of the methodology and the research design
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
(MacCannell, 1999). Thirdly, Aleppo and Acre have been inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986
and 2001 consecutively, while al-Salt was placed on the Tentative List in 2004 and has yet to be inscribed.
Fourthly, from a place-as-product planning perspective, the three case study cities varied in their product’s
lifecycle at the time of the �eldwork between 2005 and 2006. Aleppo represented a mature cultural heritage
tourism product that enjoyed a widely acclaimed reputation for its citadel and historic urban landscape; al-Salt
was at the development stage during the �eldwork and currently remains at the introduction stage; while Acre
was at the growth stage of its lifecycle (Russo, 2002). Fifthly, at the time of the �eldwork, each of Aleppo,
al-Salt and Acre was subject to plans and projects that varied in their approach whereby the Project for the
Rehabilitation of the Old City of Aleppo prioritized in its objectives and goals the residential function of the
historic urban landscape. Conversely, the three Tourism Development Projects in al-Salt focused primarily
on tourism development with hardly any mention of the needs of the local inhabitants. At its inception,
the Development Plan in Acre underscored tourism development by seeking to convert the historic urban
landscape into a museum city; however, as the project progressed, several factors obliged the planners to shift
the planning and implementation approach to account for the needs of the local inhabitants. Lastly, given my
family roots in the Levant, my ability to speak the Arabic language, and especially the local dialects, as well
as my knowledge of the nuances of the local culture bestowed on me the advantage of easy access to the local
communities in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre.
Thus in order to delve into the speci�cs surrounding the planning initiatives in each of the three case study
cities, a primary explanatory approach to the case study analysis is combined with a secondary exploratory one
(Yin, 1994; Yin, 2003). The questions that this book investigates include: how did these planning initiatives
and their projects embark on achieving their place-making objectives? How did they identify the signi�cant
elements of the historic urban landscape that warranted intervention? How were the place-making policies
and implementation strategies formed? How did these place-making initiatives consider the needs of the
local inhabitants and the needs of the international tourists? What types of challenges emerged during the
planning processes and how did planning respond to them? And lastly, how did the planning initiatives, their
challenges and the responses to these challenges shape the place experience for the local inhabitants and for
In addressing these questions, the comparative case study analysis adopted a theoretical as opposed to a
literal replication (Yin, 2003). Where the former seeks ‘contrasting results for predictable reasons’, the latter
‘predicts similar results’ (Yin, 2003: 5). For example, through the literal replication of the comparative case
study analysis, I seek to explain how the different documentation methods had impacted the subsequent policy-
making and planning decisions in these cities albeit in different ways (Sartori, 1994). The comparison also
investigates how the globally endorsed guidelines, such as ICOMOS’s conservation charters and UNESCO’s
Convention, have been adapted differently to suit the local conditions. Such an approach allows a balance
between the particularities of Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre and the generalizable outcomes through which it is
The data collection tactics comprised a variety of primary and secondary sources of data. To begin with,
the secondary sources of data included, among others, the documents and archives pertaining to each of the
plans and projects in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre; relevant publications in academic journals, books and public
media; and the archives of UNESCO, ICOMOS and ICCROM on heritage in general and world heritage in
particular. Certainly, Luisa de Marco (2009) has observed that UNESCO and ICOMOS documents ‘orient
their [conservation] “discipline”’ and as such, ‘re�ect the debate and the modi�cations of perspective within
conservation’ (De Marco, 2009: 13). Therefore, throughout this book, I conduct a content analysis of the
Convention and other UNESCO documents on world heritage, and 14 revisions of the operational guidelines
which have been published between 1977 and 2013. Included in this analysis as well are the 39 charters,
resolutions and doctrinal texts that ICOMOS had issued or had endorsed and through which it continues to be
involved, whether directly or indirectly, in the regulation of heritage planning worldwide. These include: 14
ICOMOS International charters; 14 ICOMOS International resolutions and declarations; seven ICOMOS
National Committees charters that have been endorsed by ICOMOS; and four documents and texts listed by
ICOMOS as ‘Other International Standards’ (ICOMOS, 2011a).
The primary sources of data included primarily in-depth interviews with the planners and policy-makers;
semi-structured interviews with the local inhabitants; and semi-structured interviews with the international
Historic Urban Landscapes: World Heritage and the Contradictions of Tourism
tourists in Aleppo and Acre.
These primary sources also included in-situ observations and visual analyses of
the historic urban landscapes of Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre, as well as observations during special events in each
city such as concerts, meetings and workshops, all of which contributed pivotal data. More speci�cally, the
interviews with the planners and policy-makers sought to incorporate the perspectives of all those involved
in the decision-making process, including government employees, private-sector developers and the staff of
the various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) active in each city. These interviews lasted anywhere
from one to two hours. In total, nine interviews were conducted in Aleppo, 12 in al-Salt and 11 in Acre. The
questions posed to the planning of�cials concerned three main topics, particularly the current management
plans and the associated projects; each city’s distinctive characteristics; and the measures taken to involve the
The semi-structured interviews with the local inhabitants and the international tourists were limited to the
areas where the plans and projects were being implemented in each city. As such, the study in Aleppo focused
on three action areas (AA), which corresponded to three quarters, namely:
Bāb Qinnasrīn
(AA-1),
(AA-2) and
(AA-3). In al-Salt the study included the downtown core and the historic neighbourhoods
abutting the public stairways, while in Acre the study covered the entire historic urban landscape bounded
by the city’s walls. The local inhabitants were de�ned as anyone who lived and/or worked within these areas
of each city’s historic urban landscape. The structured interviews with the local inhabitants lasted anywhere
between 60 and 90 minutes and elicited 36 respondents in Aleppo, 39 in al-Salt and 38 in Acre. Accurate
sampling was rendered dif�cult because of the non-geometric urban forms of these cities combined with a
lack of telephone directories or house numbering systems. Accordingly, a quasi-random sampling method was
developed that accounted for the division of the historic urban landscape into residential quarters, whereby
using a map of each historic city, the tenth unit – whether residential or commercial – along each street or
alleyway was selected and the available and willing adults were interviewed: an average of seven interviews
were conducted in each historic quarter.
As for the tourists, English-speaking international tourists were recruited in person at the primary tourist
attractions such as historical monuments, major plazas and museums within the aforementioned boundaries.
These tourists were approached and whoever agreed to participate was interviewed. Each interview lasted
anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes, however, because Acre as a destination attracts day-trippers for the
most part, the international tourists were generally pressed for time. This, combined with the fact that upon
entering Israel the immigration of�cers limited my stay to one month, compounded the time limitations.
Eventually, a new approach was devised whereby if a tourist was interested but was also rushed, then after
their initial approval, they were given the questions in pre-paid envelopes which they �lled out and mailed at
their convenience. In total, 80 copies of the interview questions were distributed and 28 tourists mailed back
their responses with a response rate of 35 per cent. For the most part, the respondents among the international
tourists were generous with their feedback and remarks in the mailed-in paper copies. Quite a few of them
followed up by email to share additional insights and to pose inquiries about the research project, which,
naturally, triggered email conversations during which these individuals shared further insights and ideas.
The data from the open-ended questions with the local inhabitants and the international tourists and their
comments on the closed-ended questions yielded themes that were tabulated to facilitate the analysis of
the place-making and place experience processes. Most importantly, and in line with the ethics protocols,
anonymity was guaranteed to every participant in this study.
Needless to say that the research design also considered the political situation in the Middle East
whereby the �eldwork in Aleppo had to be completed before commencing in Acre because it would have
been impossible to enter Syria after entering Israel. Therefore, between 26 May and 18 June 2005, I lived in
Aleppo and followed this with a trip to Acre from 13 December 2005 until 11 January 2006. The �eldwork in
al-Salt took place between 1 and 23 May 2005 and again between 20 June and 20 July 2005. Since then, and
almost annually, several other trips to Jordan followed that included regular visits to al-Salt during which it
was possible to monitor the progress of the tourism development projects and to meet with the local planners
for follow-up discussions. During the �eldwork, immersion in each city was crucial. In Aleppo, I stayed
 As a tourism product still in its initiation stage, al-Salt receives a nominal number of international tourists compared
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
with friends who lived at the edge of the Old City of Aleppo; in Acre, I stayed with a family in the heart of
Old Acre; and I commuted daily from Amman to al-Salt. Thus, I immersed myself in these historic cities
and spent my days roaming around, conducting interviews, sitting at cafés and benches, chatting with the
local inhabitants and the international tourists and simply observing both my physical surroundings and the
activities around me. On many occasions in the three cities, I was fortunate to be invited to local events from
Christmas celebrations in the historic churches of Acre, to concerts in the archaeological ruins of Aleppo’s
Church, to lectures and even weddings in al-Salt. I was invited into people’s homes, shared their
food and drink and was fortunate to enjoy a �rsthand experience of their ways of life – allowing me insights
that enriched my research project but, most importantly, enriched my personal experience.
This chapter introduces the general characteristics that distinguish the urban form of cities in
Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and the western parts of Jordan. This chapter then discusses the socio-cultural,
political and economic factors that shaped the distinctive characteristics of the contemporary urban form
for each of Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre. This is followed by a review of each city’s experiences with urban
planning since the beginning of the twentieth century. The goal is, �rstly, to address the sources of these
cities’ otherness as tourist destinations (MacCannell, 1999) and the rationale behind their labelling under the
myth of the unchanged (Echtner and Prasad, 2003). Secondly, this chapter’s discussion establishes the links
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
they prospered again mostly due to the expansion of their economic activities (on Aleppo see Davis, 1967
and Zeitlian Watenpaugh, 2004; on al-Salt see Abū Tālib et al., 2000; and on Acre see Philipp, 2001). The
agents of well-known French and English merchant families – dubbed ‘factors’ – were permanently stationed
in the caravanserais of those cities that were located along the trade routes, and, thus, at the time linked these
cities to the world economy. Aleppo dominated the global silk trade, and acquired particular signi�cance among
(Sutton, 1979: 169; Davis, 1967: 3, 27). Likewise, during the Napoleonic wars, Acre
dominated the cotton and grain trade and thrived to become the third largest urban centre in
after Damascus and Aleppo, with a population that reached 25,000 in AD 1785. Acre’s location and geographic
formation provided both natural shelter against storms and formidable protection against attack – factors that
transformed its port into the largest among all the Levantine ports on the Mediterranean (Philipp, 2001: 1, 9).
 According to Sutton (1979: 169), Shakespeare mentioned Aleppo twice in his plays: ‘Her husband to Aleppo
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
 This regulatory arrangement in Aleppo, like in many other cities, began during the
Ayyūbid
throughout the Ottoman period (Zeitlian Watenpaugh, 2004).
The entrance to the Citadel – or
– of Aleppo and its forti�cations
rendered it inaccessible to the general public
Source:
The author.
Figure 2.1
The Citadel of Aleppo is at the centre of the historic urban landscape
surrounded by the residential quarters and the main
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Figure 2.2
The monumental corridor leading to the Citadel of Aleppo
Source:
The author.
Figure 2.3
The contemporary automobile roads that traversed the historic quarters
of Aleppo as a result of contemporary planning initiatives
Source:
The author.
The Gutton Proposal imposed two
main roads running along the west-east axis, and two ring roads: one around the old quarter and the other
 GTZ stands for
Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit
, meaning Agency for Technical Cooperation. It was
on 1 January 2011.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Al-Salt’s Urban Morphology
Ayyūbid
in what is now
contemporary Jordan, one in Ajlūn and the other in al-Salt. These forti�cations were meant to ward off
the ambitions of the Crusaders in the areas east of the River Jordan. At the time, Ajlūn was the more
important centre and continued to be so throughout the later Islamic periods, while al-Salt remained the
masjid al-jāmi
. The
Ayyūbid
of al-Salt was destroyed twice, �rst by the Crusaders in the twelfth century then
by the Mongols in 1260 (Abū Tālib et al., 2000). Although the
Ayyūbids
who
Figure 2.4
The centre of al-Salt
Source:
The author.
With the increase of al-Salt’s population, the
at the foot of the Citadel hill – also known as the
evolved, where just like in Aleppo’s quarters, members of the same group
 The main water spring constituted of three parts known as the
‘ain al‘dawāb
‘ain al-banāt
‘ain al-rijāl
referring to the water springs for livestock, women and men respectively. The �rst two were covered while the third, which
was the public one that provided the entire city with water, was not covered (Abū Tālib et al., 2000).
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Salt’s natural topography in�uenced their urban form and architectural vocabulary. Speci�cally, the city’s
Figure 2.5
courtyards or
Source:
The author.
of the Mu‘ashsher complex in al-Salt
Source:
The author.
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
The high quality of stonemasonry in al-Salt declined signi�cantly toward the end of the 1950s, when concrete
was introduced to the region (Royal Scienti�c Society, 1990b).
This architectural decline paralleled a socio-economic one that ensued following the Arab-Israeli con�ict
of 1948 and the closure of the ports in Haifa and Jaffa. Al-Salt did not receive the large number of displaced
Palestinian refugees that other Jordanian cities like Amman, Zarqa and Irbid received. On the contrary, it
lost a signi�cant portion of its population in the 1940s, who either moved to Amman or to the newer spaces
around al-Salt itself, thus abandoning in the process many of the houses in the historic core. Furthermore, the
Antiquities Law in Jordan protected only those historic remains that pre-dated 1700 leaving anything built
Parliament in 2004
(Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan 1988). Due to the absence of protective legislation for
architectural heritage, several of the historic buildings in al-Salt were either entirely demolished or mutilated
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
protective legislation for the architectural heritage in Jordan, leading to a temporary version of the Law on the
Protection of Traditional Architecture and Heritage that was passed in 2004 and then rati�ed by the parliament
in 2005 (The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, 2005). Their efforts also raised international awareness regarding
al-Salt’s urban heritage, and in the early 1990s the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) included
Japanese cooperation agreements (JICA, undated). This study, which sought ‘to understand tourism in Jordan
 The six sites in Jordan: the Amman Downtown Tourist Zone, the National Museum, the Dead Sea Parkway, the
Dead Sea Panoramic Complex, the Karak Tourism Development and Historic Old Salt (Japan International Coorperation
Agency, 2011).
resulted in the former’s control over the Syrian coast from Jaffa (130km south of Acre) to Tripoli (190km
north of Acre). By AD 1700, the French Factors had founded a Consulate in Acre as they received permission
The turning point in Acre’s history came when
Zāhir al-Omar al-Zeidānī
made Acre his capital in AD 1751.
Zāhir al-Omar
’s decision marked the rapid revival of Acre’s Crusader glory, and by AD 1785, only a couple
of decades later, it was transformed into ‘the third largest city in Syria – after Aleppo and Damascus – and the
largest port on the Syrian coast’ (Philipp, 2001: 1). The scarce archival sources from this period
reveal that
most probably it was the readily available building materials from Acre’s Crusader ruins that had in�uenced
Zāhir al-Omar
’s choice to make the city his capital. Not only was the eighteenth century city constructed
over the Crusader one, but also, for the most part, it followed the Crusader city’s layout particularly in the
southern and western areas where the Genoese, Pisan and Rectangular quarters were located (Figure 2.6)
(Philipp, 2001). Furthermore, Acre’s new layout re�ected clear functional divisions where, on the one hand,
the residential one- or two-story buildings dominated the central, western and southern parts of the city.
Most residences had their own private courtyards and the two-story houses were often divided into separate
apartments to accommodate the extended family. On the other hand, the religious structures, such as the
churches and mosques, were distributed evenly among the neighbourhoods and only the spectacular
Mosque stood out as a symbol of ‘representation and political legitimization’ (Philipp, 2001: 26) (Plate 7).
The commercial structures revealed Acre’s rising economic status and included �ve major
as well as
that spread along the eastern part of the city adjacent to the harbour (Philipp, 2001: 26).
The civic structures and public utilities included
(plural for
) and an aqueduct that
delivered fresh water into the city from nearby water springs (Philipp, 2001; also see Rustum, 1926). And
�nally, the military-political structures of Acre concentrated in the northern parts of the city and included
the Crusader Citadel, which the Ottoman rulers rehabilitated to serve as their palace and headquarters. After
 The records may have been destroyed during any of the wars that the city suffered from beginning with the internal
strife among Ottoman rulers in 1775 and ending with the Arab-Israeli war in 1948 (Philipp, 2001).
Figure 2.6
The Crusader and the Ottoman layers of Acre
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
walls or its
aswār
with additional defence structures like towers (Hartal, 1997; Philipp, 2001) (Plate 8). The
 Also, during an interview on 27 December 2005, one of the planners in Acre referred to these events. Likewise,
The spectacular
Mosque of Acre
Source:
The author.
The defensive walls or
surrounding Acre as seen from the Mediterranean
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
of the property within the walls of Acre, while 10 per cent of what remains either belongs to the Muslim
 This quote, along with some other quotes and some plates that appear in subsequent chapters have been published
Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review
, Spring 2010, volume XXI, Issue II, pages 35–54. The article was titled:
From Documentation to Policy-Making: Management of Built Heritage in Old Aleppo and Old Acre.
of this �ve-year Development Plan in 2001 coincided with Israel’s rati�cation of the Convention Concerning
the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The government of Israel at the time chose the
Old City of Acre and the Masada National Park as its �rst sites to be nominated for the World Heritage List
(UNESCO, 1992–2014). The Development Plan hence became the crux of a nomination package that was
submitted to UNESCO to inscribe Acre on the World Heritage List. Given its tangible positive outcomes, the
The original inhabitants of the three cities for the most part had abandoned their homes, albeit with varying
motivations – ranging from the socio-economic in Aleppo, to the political in Acre, to a combination of both in
al-Salt. The af�uent inhabitants of Aleppo moved to the newer parts of the city, while Acre’s inhabitants �ed
in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and al-Salt’s inhabitants moved either to the new capital Amman,
or to the newer suburbs of their city. The ensuing effects were similar across all three cities as new inhabitants,
who were of a lower socio-economic class than their predecessors, moved into the historic quarters from the
Viewed through an urban planning lens, the problems in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre appear to stem from a
lack of clear strategies for adapting the historic fabric of these cities to the needs of their contemporaneous
inhabitants. They were also aggravated by a combination of maltreatment by their local inhabitants and
prolonged neglect on the part of public institutions, leading these historic cities to spiral into additional
physical and socio-economic decline. The contemporary challenges to urban development are discussed here
under three key themes, namely, the socio-economic conditions, the spatial concerns and the architectural and
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
air within the structures’. In the case of al-Salt, several residential abodes remain to this day abandoned, while
an additional number are rented out either to poorer local families or to groups of immigrant workers from
neighbouring countries – primarily single males, who often crowd in large numbers inside these dwellings for
Lastly, the inhabitants in the three cities complained during the interviews about the lack of social
infrastructure. They repeatedly referred to the lack of clinics, vocational schools, public libraries, youth
centres, elderly services, children’s playgrounds and kindergartens.
The adaptation of infrastructure to accommodate the use of the automobile posed a major challenge given the
the sake of contemporary development as well as from the history of spatial planning in Aleppo. In contrast,
the three Tourism Development Projects for al-Salt and the Development Plan for Acre emphasized tourism
development. The former, however, underscored the foreseeable economic bene�ts of developing a new type
of tourism product – this is particularly lucrative for a country that prides itself on its rich repertoire of
antiquities, albeit with a dearth of urban history that until recently was not protected through the legislative
channels. The projects in al-Salt thus approached tourism development purely from a commercial perspective
that commodi�ed the historic city – literally – as a tourism product. In contrast, while the Development Plan
for Acre also prioritized tourism development, it emphasized the picturesque in the historic urban landscape
PART II
Documentation and Value Assessments:
The First International Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments yielded the 1931
Athens Charter for the Restoration of Historic Monuments which called for the protection of the ‘character
and historic values’ of ‘monuments of artistic, historic or scienti�c interest’ (ICOMOS, 1931: Article 2.II). The
Second International Congress in Venice followed in 1964 and yielded the Venice Charter according to which
restoration’s primary objective was to ‘preserve and reveal the aesthetic and historic value of the monument’
(ICOMOS, 1964: Article 9). The Venice Charter also furthered the notion of world heritage, grounding it in the
rationale that ‘people are becoming more and more conscious of the unity of human values and regard ancient
monuments as a common heritage’ hence it stressed the need for a ‘common responsibility to safeguard
[ancient monuments] for future generations’ (ICOMOS, 1964). Thus this congress led to the establishment of
ICOMOS (ICOMOS, 2011a), and to the emergence of three key notions that henceforth prevailed UNESCO’s
Building on the discussion in Chapter 1, this chapter delves further into the world heritage and the shared
responsibility notions, but highlights the values and signi�cance of cultural heritage, particularly the concept
of outstanding universal value (OUV). Ful�lling the requirement of outstanding universal value determines
the inscription of a property on the World Heritage List (UNESCO, 1972) and sets forth the direction for the
management and intervention strategies – in other words, the place-making strategies. As the �rst step in such
place-making, value assessments consist of three stages that begin with the documentation of the historic urban
landscape (see for example Pendlebury, 2009; Tyler, 2000; Ford et al., 1999; Pearson and Sullivan, 1999).
The outcomes of the documentation then lead to the ranking and prioritization of the values, while the third
and last stage is the actual planning for later intervention in the historic urban landscape (Mason, 2002: 14).
Therefore, the discussion in this chapter addresses the challenges and the controversies associated with the
assessment of values in general, and the outstanding universal value in particular. The discussion draws
attention to the intensi�ed complexity of value assessments at the urban scale where the cultural heritage in
question encompasses the entire historic urban landscape. Through the case study cities, the discussion also
presents the tensions between the values and signi�cance associated with the world heritage status versus
World Heritage: the Outstanding Universal Value and the Inscription Criteria
The Convention introduced the tenet of ‘outstanding universal value’ as a prerequisite for the inscription of
any heritage property on the World Heritage List (UNESCO, 1972: Article 11). However, the Convention
did not de�ne the outstanding universal value but instead linked it to speci�c ‘points of view’ such as
the ‘point of view of history, art or science’ for monuments and groups of buildings and the ‘historical,
aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological’ point of view for sites – inherently implying that these points of
view pertain to the experts (see UNESCO, 1972: Articles 1, 2). In lieu of de�ning the outstanding universal
value, the Committee requested from ICOMOS to prepare criteria that evaluate it. Thus, ICOMOS produced
the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (henceforth, the
Operational Guidelines) that regulated all the procedures pertaining to world heritage from nomination to
inscription (UNESCO, 1977, UNESCO, 1978). These Operational Guidelines proposed two sets of criteria:
six for cultural heritage and four for natural heritage (Jokilehto et al., 2008; UNESCO, 1977: Article 5.ii).
These criteria remained in principle unchanged throughout the 16 revisions of the Operational Guidelines
between 1977 and 2013 except that in 2005 they were combined into one list instead of their separation
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
into criteria for cultural and for natural heritage (UNESCO, 2005a: Articles 77.i–77.x) (see Table 3.1). In
conjunction with these criteria, the Operational Guidelines also stipulated that any nominated property ‘must
also meet the conditions of integrity and/or authenticity’ (UNESCO, 2013: Article 78). Thus, in order to
justify any property’s inscription on the World Heritage List, the nomination package should compare this
nominated property to similar sites, specify the applicable nomination criteria and assert the validity of these
criteria through a ‘Statement of Outstanding Universal Value’ while simultaneously validating the claims
of integrity and authenticity. ICOMOS and IUCN experts then evaluate all the nominations and make their
Notwithstanding its importance, the documentation methods of cultural heritage have hitherto not been
fully addressed in the world heritage documents or any other UNESCO, ICOMOS or ICCROM doctrinal
texts except for a brief mention in the Convention for the need for complete documentation of any nominated
property (UNESCO, 1972: Article 11.1). Likewise, the 2013 Operational Guidelines have very brie�y
stated that the nomination package should include ‘carefully prepared documentation’ (UNESCO, 2013:
Article 23.a). These Operational Guidelines have also linked the documentation to intervention strategies
when specifying that ‘Reconstruction is acceptable only on the basis of complete and detailed documentation
and to no extent on conjecture’ (Ibid.: Article 86). Thus any future intervention in the nominated property
would safeguard its values and signi�cance whether through protection, conservation and/or management
(UNESCO, 2008: Article I.3.i). As such, the statement of signi�cance that ensues from the documentation
becomes a ‘prerequisite to making decisions about the future of a place’ (Australia ICOMOS, 1999),
rendering such documentation critical for the subsequent development of policies and plans (Feilden and
Jokilehto, 1998). Without elaborating on the documentation methods, the Convention and the Operational
Guidelines have considered that the inscription criteria and the outstanding universal value would provide a
‘framework’ for assessing the values of cultural heritage (Jokilehto et al., 2008: 8). This framework certainly
underscored only the perspective of the heritage and conservation experts, particularly when statements such
as ‘from the point of view of history, art or science’ have been appended to almost all the inscription criteria
(UNESCO, 1972: Article 1).
Indeed, since its inception, the outstanding universal value and then its 10 assessment criteria had stirred
debate within and beyond the world heritage institutions. The following discussion traces these debates and
reveals that the �rst stab at de�ning the outstanding universal value happened only in 1998, and that the
term was �nally de�ned in 2005 – 33 years after its inception in 1972. The discussion also reveals that the
world heritage documents and doctrinal texts had lagged behind the heritage debates in de�ning values and
The Evolution of Cultural Heritage Values and Signi�cance
The word ‘value’ holds positive connotations that evoke worth and bene�ts (Mason, 2002: 6). When the
de�nition of cultural heritage as a resource that is inherited from the past prevailed in the nineteenth century,
the concern for the conservation of historic built fabrics was based on their ‘intrinsic value’ (Ashworth and
Tunbridge, 1990: 24; Nasser, 2003: 467, 471). The resolution of the 1972 ICOMOS symposium on the
‘introduction of contemporary architecture into ancient groups of buildings’
asserted ‘that any historical
monument or complex of buildings possesses an intrinsic value independently of its initial role and signi�cance’
(ICOMOS, 1972). Thus, it was historic conservation experts who judged the value of cultural heritage and
claimed objectivity by depending solely on ‘facts’ and ‘truths’ (Wells, 2010). However, I argue that two
events in 1972 led to a surge in the theoretical and empirical writings on heritage value and signi�cance that
subsequently triggered a paradigm shift in the de�nition of values and signi�cance and in their assessment.
The �rst was the National Parks Service’s establishment of procedures for assessing the signi�cance of
material heritage
(Samuels, 2008), and the second was the rati�cation of the Convention which ensued in the
 This symposium was held in 1972 during the Third ICOMOS General Assembly, in Budapest (ICOMOS 1972).
 This was probably a response to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 that delegated such assessments to
Documentation and Value Assessments
adoption of the Operational Guidelines in 1977 and the �rst inscriptions on the World Heritage List in 1978
Briuer and Mathers (1997) observed that prior to 1972 there were very few, if any, publications at all
on heritage values and signi�cance in the USA. Then, while only a handful of such publications appeared
between 1972 and 1976, a plethora emerged from 1977 onward (Briuer and Mathers, 1997). These publications
called for considering alternative modes for the evaluation of heritage signi�cance other than the expert-
attributed intrinsic value. Thus, in addition to the ‘historical and scienti�c signi�cance’, new types appeared
such as ‘social and monetary values’ (Briuer and Mathers, 1997: Ea-1, E-a2). Distinctions ensued between
‘signi�cance’ and ‘value’ whereby the former was associated with expert-related interests and the latter with
the public-related ones (Briuer and Mathers, 1997: Ea-1, E-a2). Others challenged signi�cance assessments
based on the fact that signi�cance is inherently capricious and advocated for abandoning it altogether. Instead,
as Lipe (1974: 228) argued, ‘the guiding principle […] should be representativeness’ lending further credence
to the experts’ standpoint.
The �rst to break with the expert-based approach of heritage values were Michael J. Moratto and Roger
E. Kelly (1976) who contested the claim of intrinsic signi�cance for cultural heritage, questioned the experts’
control over value assessments and advocated for diverse concepts of heritage signi�cance that ‘vary according
to the attributes of the resources, the context of the assessment, and the perspective of the evaluation’ (Moratto
and Kelly, 1976: 201). By questioning the approach of setting criteria for signi�cance assessments, they
contended that ‘there can be no universal or absolute measures of worth’ (Moratto and Kelly, 1976: 193).
Therefore, they proposed to overcome the limitations of existing criteria by combining them with a layered
thematic approach such as the National Parks Services’ classi�cation of cultural heritage according to events
and/or periods (Moratto and Kelly, 1976: 200–201).
In addition to representativeness and themed classi�cations, subsequent arguments also reasoned that
heritage is a contemporary social construct. Thus, in contrast with the experts’ view that intrinsic values
de�ne heritage, heritage is currently selected based on subjective values that are contingent upon and
constantly interacting with contemporary factors such as historical events, social forces, cultural trends,
economic opportunities and spatial forms (Graham, 2002: 1004; Mason, 2002: 5–6, 9). Value and signi�cance
are therefore bestowed on heritage and do not necessarily emanate from its materiality or physical status
(Graham, 2002: 1004). Once it was established that heritage is inherently ‘value-laden’ (Boniface and
Fowler, 1993: 158), it became possible to challenge the empiricist-positivist claim of objective expert
assessments of heritage (Tainter and Lucas, 1983: 715). Also, because a diversity of factors in�uences
heritage values, cultural heritage may then concurrently possess a complex array of contemporary values
(Graham, 2002: 1006; Moratto and Kelly, 1976). Various factors further compound this complexity. Firstly,
the varying perceptions of stakeholders who maintain different values for the same quality of cultural heritage
(Mason, 2002: 9; Moratto and Kelly, 1976) and who, in the process, generate insider-outsider views of heritage
values (Hayden, 1999) and create clusters of ‘imagined communities’ among those who share the same values
toward cultural heritage (Anderson, 1991: 184). Secondly, the complexity of heritage values is exacerbated
when their diversity entails overlap, competition, inconsistency and even con�ict (Mason, 2002: 5), which
more often than not evolve into dissonance (Tunbridge and Ashworth, 1996: 3, 8). For example, while the
historic and the commercial values of heritage link the past and the present (Ashworth and Tunbridge, 1990: 24;
Nasser, 2003: 471), they simultaneously generate dissonance when tourism development, motivated by the
economic values, imposes irreversible changes on the historic urban landscape and on the quality of life of
its inhabitants (Graham et al., 2000; Tunbridge and Ashworth, 1996). Thirdly, while the capricious nature of
cultural heritage values manifests in multifarious ways, the decision-making processes typically fail to capture
this diversity and prioritize the conservation of those values deemed essential at one particular point in time
(Lipe, 1974: 227; Taylor and Cassar, 2008: 8). Heritage therefore is not only a varied, but also an evolving
entity, where many ‘heritages’ co-exist, whose values – that is, contents and meanings – change through time
and across space (see for example Graham, 2002: 1004; Mason, 2002: 9; Taylor and Cassar, 2008: 8). Lastly,
and most importantly, these complexities and controversies surrounding the heritage value concept acquire
additional dimensions when transposed onto historic urban landscapes – as opposed to a single monument,
site or group of buildings. If we apply Moratto and Kelly’s (1976: 210) view that a combination of attributes,
context and perspective shape the values of heritage, then these values are indeed compounded at the scale
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
of the historic urban landscape where the urban fabric and its context are more intricate and where the
The Evolution of the Outstanding Universal Value
The world heritage movement, as represented by UNESCO and its advisory bodies, has failed to keep pace
with the ongoing debates on heritage values in general, let alone to address their complexities at the urban
scale in particular. The 1987 Operational Guidelines were the �rst to mention historic towns (UNESCO, 1987:
Article 24.i, ii and iii), but they underscored their architectural rather than intellectual value (UNESCO, 1987:
Article 26), highlighted the ‘monumentality’ of the nominated historic fabric (or parts of it) (UNESCO, 1987:
Articles 27, 28) and recognized only the implications of the inscription on ‘the fragility of their urban fabric’
as opposed to the life within this fabric (UNESCO, 1987: Article 15.ii).
Likewise, the numerous ICOMOS international resolutions and charters, some of which were speci�cally
dedicated to historic urban landscapes, overlooked the heritage values altogether including the Bruges
Resolution 1975
and the Washington Charter 1987
(ICOMOS, 1975; ICOMOS, 1987). Both documents
underscored the ‘historic character’ of the town/urban area and called for conserving its ‘visual qualities’,
‘appearance’ and its ‘physical and spatial elements’ (ICOMOS, 1987: Article 5.iii; ICOMOS, 1975: Article 2).
Additionally, they highlighted the expert assessments of the morphological characteristics (for example, the
street network, land parcels and public open spaces) and of the visual characteristics (for example, the
architectural styles and the natural setting) (ICOMOS, 1987: Article 2). The 1979 Burra Charter
de�ned cultural
signi�cance as the ‘aesthetic, historic, scienti�c or social value for past, present or future generations’ (Australia
ICOMOS, 1979: Article 1). The �nal iteration of this charter in 1999 added the ‘spiritual’ value and explicated
that ‘Cultural signi�cance is embodied in the
itself, its
 The Bruges Resolution is the outcome of the International Symposium on the Conservation of Smaller Historic
Towns, which was held at the Fourth ICOMOS General Assembly in 1975.
 The Washington Charter is the ICOMOS Charter for the Conservation of Historic Towns and Urban Areas.
 Australia ICOMOS published the �rst iteration of this charter in 1979. It is also known as the Charter for the
Documentation and Value Assessments
a content analysis of UNESCO’s documents and archives, the following section reveals how the attempts
to elucidate and to operationalize the outstanding universal value had lagged behind the contemporaneous
heritage debates. This section also reveals how these attempts seemed reactionary to these debates and, for the
most part, how they drew on the experiences of the National Parks Service in the USA instead of responding
to the challenges emerging from the actual process of inscription on the World Heritage List.
Resolving Ambiguity or Inciting Debate?
The long trail of of�cial UNESCO, ICCROM and ICOMOS records since the 1970s documents all the
meetings, workshops and efforts by experts and commissioned consultants among many others. This trail
thus provides tangible evidence of UNESCO’s attempts to de�ne, interpret, justify and operationalize the
outstanding universal value and also to revise the inscription criteria accordingly (Jokilehto et al., 2008).
At its third session in 1979,
the Committee conceded to the presence of ‘a number of problems over the
application of the criteria’, and commissioned Michel Parent, a conservation expert, to ‘de�ne more precisely’
these inscription criteria (UNESCO, 1979: Article 2). Parent produced a report that distinguished between the
positive and negative values and associated the outstanding universal value with the qualities of rarity and
uniqueness but simultaneously admitted that these were ‘(subjective) quali�cations not objective criteria’
(Parent, 1979: 18). Parent therefore attempted to counter this subjectivity primarily through expanding on
the authenticity criterion, and through generating sub-classes for each of the Convention’s three typologies
of cultural heritage – monuments, groups of buildings and sites – and proposing possible combinations of
applicable values for each (Parent, 1979: 2–7). Most importantly, Parent’s report introduced ‘comparative
assessments’ and ‘representation’ both of which became central to the methodological ethos of the World
Heritage List inscription procedure. The tenet behind comparative assessment was that it would increase the
objectivity by enabling the experts ‘to compare like with like’ (Parent, 1979: 25). Parent had indeed borrowed
comparative assessments from Michael B. Schiffer and John H. House (1977) who had proposed, �rstly,
to categorize the different types of value and, secondly, to ascribe values to sites, allowing the assessors
to establish a relative signi�cance for each site by cross-comparing the sites that possess similar value
categories. Similarly, Parent’s report borrowed from Lipe’s (1974) theory of a representative sample, whereby
representation referred to ‘a whole series of similar sites, whereas monuments or historic towns will inevitably
form whole “families”’ (Parent, 1979: 24). Accordingly, only ‘the most remarkable’ sites from each family –
that is, that are both representative and unique – would be inscribed on the World Heritage List, and thus
become ‘unique symbols, each one standing for the whole series of similar events’ (Parent, 1979: 24). This
emphasis on uniqueness contradicted with this report’s earlier criticism of the subjective nature of the rarity
and uniqueness qualities and fell in line with earlier critiques of ‘sliding scales’ in determining the signi�cance
of cultural heritage (Raab and Klinger, 1977: 632).
Although the Committee initially dismissed Parent’s report (UNESCO, 1983), his recommendation for a
comparative assessment method was endorsed together with revising the criteria as necessary (UNESCO, 1979:
Article 5; UNESCO, 1983: Article 7). Criticism, however, was mounting against the over-representation of
European Judaeo-Christian sites on the World Heritage List (see for example critiques by: Beck, 2006: 522;
Cameron, 2005: 72; Smith, 2006; Titchen, 1996). Such critique was attributed to the predominantly Euro-
centric method of assessing the outstanding universal value, which was seen as exclusionary of other cultures
(Cleere, 1996; de Cisari, 2010: 310; Frey and Steiner, 2010: 6–8). Thus, several following attempts sought
to widen the representative net of the World Heritage List (Cameron, 2005: 72), but each new proposal
attracted more criticism and controversy, and inevitably became the burden of its successor. For example,
a 1988 Global Study proposed to combine Parent’s classi�cations and the comparative assessments whereby
all the cultural heritage of the world would be grouped into various lists based on considerations such as
chronology, geography, function and religion in order to facilitate international comparisons. Had it been
endorsed, this proposal would have led to an in�nite number of inscriptions on the World Heritage List (see
Cameron, 2005: 72; Frey and Steiner, 2010: 8; Rakić, 2007: 215).
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Mostly, the contradictions in de�ning the outstanding universal value resulted from the attempt to interpret
this construct through combining ‘uniqueness’ and ‘representativeness’ (see for example Titchen, 1996) –
overlooking in the process that these two qualities are mutually exclusive. In other words, by virtue of being
unique, such as in the case of the carved-rock city of Petra in Jordan, a heritage property cannot simultaneously
be representative. Therefore, decreasing the emphasis on the uniqueness quality was thought to resolve these
controversies, and so, for the �rst time since the Convention, the outstanding universal value was de�ned
in 1998 as ‘an outstanding response to issues of universal nature common to or addressed by all human
cultures. In relation to natural heritage, such issues are seen in bio-geographical diversity; in relation to
culture in human creativity and resulting cultural diversity’ (World Heritage Committee, 1998). The lingering
ambiguity of the terms ‘outstanding’ and ‘universal’ in this de�nition, however, compelled the Committee
to rede�ne the outstanding universal value in the 2005 Operational Guidelines as: ‘cultural and/or natural
signi�cance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for
present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of the
(UNESCO, 2005: Article 49).
Simultaneously, a 2005 World Heritage Expert Meeting in Kazan sought to elucidate this new de�nition
and to improve the identi�cation, nomination and sustainable management of those properties that possess
this value (World Heritage Committee, 2005). This meeting’s recommendations made two controversial
claims. Firstly, these recommendations claimed that the outstanding universal value concept was deliberately
‘widely drawn’ so as to allow it to evolve over time (World Heritage Committee, 2005: Article II.7.b).
This claim is contested on the grounds that the theoretical and empirical discussions that established the
capricious and diverse nature of heritage values had occurred in the wake of the 1972 Convention (Briuer and
Mathers, 1997). Also, the corporate history of UNESCO as reviewed in this chapter proves that the numerous
attempts to de�ne and operationalize the outstanding universal value continued as recently as 2008 with
ICOMOS’s report: ‘What is OUV?’ (Jokilehto et al., 2008).
Secondly, for the �rst time in the 30-odd years of of�cial UNESCO discourse on world heritage, the Kazan
meeting �nally included the stakeholders’ perspective, whereby the outstanding universal value is ‘attributed
by people and through human appreciation’, and thus its identi�cation stems from the ‘wide participation’
of stakeholders, who include local communities and indigenous people (World Heritage Committee, 2005:
Articles II.7.a and k). These recommendations for inclusiveness at the local level however contradicted with
the strong bias toward expert-based determination of ‘outstanding’ value as well as with the ‘universal’ quality
of world heritage. On the one hand, the Kazan meeting put the onus on the experts who compile regional
and global heritage databases that facilitate thematic studies and comparative assessments (World Heritage
Committee, 2005: Article II.7.e). To this day, these are considered the only methods to evaluate the outstanding
universal value by determining whether the site is unique or representative (Jokilehto et al., 2008: 8, 47).
Ironically, Jokilehto et al’.s (2008) report concluded its discussion of these methods by endorsing a 1976
ICCROM report that stipulated: ‘the fact that [the outstanding universal] value be recognized to an object
or a cultural ensemble cannot be justi�ed except when referred to specialized scienti�c literature on the
subject, which is considered the most up-to-date expression of the universal consciousness on the issue’
(Jokilehto et al., 2008: 47). This reversion to the 1970s rhetoric disregarded decades of evolution for the
heritage value concept and returned to a post-positivist paradigm that re-established the hegemony of the
conservation experts over the supposedly objective assessments of heritage values. Indeed, when this process
is ‘institutionalized in the state cultural agencies and amenity societies’ (Smith, 2006: 11), as is the case
for world heritage, then it eventually leads to an ‘authorized heritage discourse’ – albeit one that deviates
from ‘mediating cultural change’ (Ibid.: 11, 300). Also, because the hegemonic control of professional elites
typically excludes stakeholders, it thus precludes ‘asserting, negotiating and af�rming particular identities
and values’ (Smith, 2006: 300). This exclusionary approach contravenes the recommendations of the
Kazan meeting, since it diminishes the possibility of a people-oriented participatory process in de�ning the
 This de�nition remained unchanged in the 2008, 2011 and 2013 revisions of the Operational Guidelines
(UNESCO, 2008; UNESCO, 2011b; UNESCO, 2013).
Documentation and Value Assessments
On the other hand, the universal value of world heritage entails shared responsibility and global
accountability for the protection and conservation of heritage assets (Jokilehto et al., 2008: 8) and requires
that the outstanding characteristics be concurrently ‘shared by human cultures’ and ‘speci�c to’ its local
culture (Ibid., 2008: 47). In fact, this seems to be the reasoning offered by UNESCO at the �nale of its
debate over the outstanding universal value – as Christina Cameron summed up in Kazan: ‘maybe it does
not matter. Maybe what matters is that the objectives of the World Heritage Convention – protection and
international cooperation – continue to be the catalyst for increased national actions to support a culture
of conservation’ (Cameron, 2005). But the international shared responsibility tenet con�icts with the fact
that heritage generates an insider sphere and an imagined community, and by consequence an outsider
sphere. David Lowenthal (1998: 230) argued that ‘the very notion of a universal legacy is self-contradictory;
[…] con�ning possession to some while excluding others is the
raison d’être
of heritage’. Empirical evidence
from several countries including China, Vietnam, Thailand and Fiji, among others, reveals dissonance between
the universal, national and local values at several World Heritage Sites
(Beck, 2006: 523). Notwithstanding
the global shift in the heritage value paradigm which has forced policy-makers to address local concerns, the
continued emphasis on the universality of world heritage inherently excludes the local narratives. Indeed, the
report by Jokilehto et al. (2008) discounted the local perspective in the assessment of outstanding universal
value when it con�rmed that ‘the nominations should be seen in a context that “goes beyond the national
boundaries. Thus the reference framework will necessarily be international and in some cases even global”’
(Jokilehto et al., 2008: 47). Furthermore, the 2013 Operational Guidelines contended that the World Heritage
List is intended ‘only for a select list of the most outstanding of these from an
viewpoint. It
is not to be assumed that a property of national and/or regional importance will automatically be inscribed
on the World Heritage List’ (UNESCO, 2013: Article 52, italics mine). Thus in their attempt to explain the
outstanding universal value, Jokilehto et al. (2008: 12) de�ned six criteria that included: uniqueness; rarity;
outstanding importance for world architecture or human settlements; the best or most signi�cant intellectual,
social or artistic examples of cultural heritage; historicity or old age; and, lastly, association with persons,
events, religions or philosophies that are globally signi�cant. The outstanding universal value is therefore not
only criticized for being ‘an idealistic quest’ (Beck, 2006: 522), which reduces all values in a statement of
signi�cance akin to a ‘black box’, but also for excluding in the process other types of values (Mason, 2002: 6) –
mostly the local ones (Frey and Steiner, 2010). This exclusion is further exacerbated given the chasm between
the international level of administering the World Heritage List (Lowenthal, 1998: 227), and the national and
local levels of nominating and inscribing property (Graham, 2002: 1005). In sum the iterative attempts to
de�ne and interpret the outstanding universal value have eclipsed all other worthwhile pursuits, including the
need to address the diversity of heritage values, to include local values and, above all, to operationalize value
Notwithstanding these criticisms of the outstanding universal value, the inscription criteria and their
implications, some have argued that these concepts have enriched the debate over heritage (Howard, 2006: 487),
and have mobilized research that yielded the still-evolving discipline of heritage management. The following
section addresses how the identi�cation of the values and signi�cance of historic urban landscapes constitutes
Alternative Conceptions of Values and their Assessment
In order to avoid the subjectivity and inherent capriciousness of heritage values, several classi�cations,
measures and typologies have emerged over the years (Briuer and Mathers, 1997; Mason, 2002: 9; Mathers
et al., 2005). Some classi�cations re�ected the priorities of the assessors including the conservation experts’
emphasis on the physical and intrinsic values (see for example Deeben et al., 1999; Tyler, 2000; Feilden and
Jokilehto, 1998). Moratto and Kelly (1976) proposed one of the earliest classi�cations that sought to replace
the intrinsic values by basing their typology on the historical, scienti�c, ethnic, public, geographic, monetary
and legal and, lastly, managerial values. Others resolved to temporal distinctions that differentiated between
 See for example Maddern’s study of the World Heritage Site of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island (Maddern, 2004).
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
memorial and present-day values, where the former refers to the values of age, history and place memory while
the latter includes the values of contemporary use, aesthetic, newness and relative art (Pendlebury, 2009).
Among the contemporary values, some included the economic, functional, educational, socio-cultural and
political values (Ashworth and Voogd, 1994; Graham et al., 2000; Olsson, 2008), and even the knowledge
Throughout, these classi�cations were motivated by an attempt to objectively and impartially identify the
heritage values and signi�cance and eventually yielded distinctions between the ‘values’ and their impartial
‘assessment criteria’ (Deeben et al., 1999: 181). Deeben et al. (1999: 181) further distinguished between the
subjectively perceived values and the supposedly objective physical and intrinsic values whereby the criteria
for assessing the former account for the perceiver’s subjectivity while the criteria for assessing the latter
resolve to expert assessments like comparative and typological studies. Such deconstruction identi�ed the
objective assessment criteria and matched them with impartial data collection tactics and assessment methods
(Mason, 2002: 9). The complexity of historic urban landscapes renders this deconstruction especially relevant
considering the multiplicity and overlapping of values and their corresponding assessment criteria. Recently,
distinctions between two sets of interrelated values emerged, namely: the socio-cultural and the economic
values of heritage (Ibid., 2002: 11).
On the one hand, the socio-cultural values have been considered ‘at the traditional core of conservation’
(Mason, 2002: 11), but unlike the intrinsic value standpoint, these socio-cultural values incorporate the
stakeholders’ perceptions since they are ‘attached to an object, building, or place
for people or social groups
due to its age, beauty, artistry, or association with a signi�cant person or event or
(otherwise) contributes to processes of cultural af�liation’ (Mason, 2002: 11 emphasis mine). Accordingly,
contemporary conservation experts have included the historical, cultural-symbolic, social, spiritual-religious
and the aesthetic together with the intrinsic values under the umbrella of the socio-cultural values of heritage
(Mason, 2002). While this and other more recent de�nitions of the socio-cultural values convey better
awareness of the stakeholders than the earlier de�nitions of heritage values, contemporary experts still seem
reluctant to relinquish their authority to identify all the heritage values to the purview of the stakeholders
and, particularly, maintaining their authority through the historical and the intrinsic values of heritage. The
historical values have been associated with the ‘material age, associations with people or events, the rarity and/
or uniqueness, the technological qualities, or the archival/documentary potential’ (Mason, 2002: 11; also see
Throsby, 2002: 101). The intrinsic value is ‘represented by – inherent in – some truly old and thus authentic
material (authentic in that it was witness to history and carries the authority of this witness). Thus, if one can
prove authenticity of material, historical value is indelibly established’ (Mason, 2002: 13). Even those values
that are supposedly identi�ed by the stakeholders, such as the cultural-symbolic values (that is, the meanings
of heritage), the social values (that is, social relations, identities and networks) and the religious-spiritual
values (Mason, 2002: 11), can become tools of socio-political and religious ‘legitimization’, particularly,
under the in�uence of hegemony (Graham, 2002: 1006). This issue is of particular relevance to world heritage,
On the other hand, the contemporary heritage management experts have highlighted the economic value
of heritage and thus have perceived heritage as a ‘cultural capital’ asset that ‘gives rise to a �ow of goods and
services over time which may also have cultural value (i.e., which are themselves cultural goods and services)’
(Throsby, 2002: 103). Accordingly, these experts have adapted the distinctions between the use and the non-
use values,
whereby the use value is generated from present-day direct uses of heritage through means such
as entry fees, while the non-use values are based on the perception of heritage as a public good whose mere
existence is considered of value. Thus the non-use values encompass the option value, which maintains the
choice for the future uses of heritage and, similarly, the bequest value which considers the right of future
generations to inherit this heritage (World Commission on Protected Areas, 1998: 11; Throsby, 2002: 103).
of tourism (Wells, 2010: 465; Tunbridge and Ashworth, 1996). For example, Marion Read’s (2005) research in
New Zealand has revealed that even seemingly objective measures might become subjective if they excluded
the perspective of the local communities. Read’s analysis of the assessment of beauty in the Otago Peninsula
 The World Commission on Protected Areas �rst introduced these distinctions in 1998.
Documentation and Value Assessments
has found that the experts’ de�nition of aesthetics favoured ‘the outsider over the inhabitants, owners and
users of the landscape’ (Read, 2005: 340).
Many have argued that these various typologies should not be used normatively but should instead
constitute a starting point whereby the various types of heritage values are gleaned from the context rather
than imposed on it (see for example Mason, 2002: 10, who sums up these arguments). As it stands, the pre-set
world heritage criteria and parameters for outstanding universal value con�ict not only with this deduction-
oriented perspective, but also with the complexity of inhabited historic towns and, most importantly, fail
to adequately consider these towns’ distinctive characteristics. Indeed, the assessments of signi�cance for
inscription on the World Heritage List, particularly at the urban scale, continue to emphasize the point of view
of the professional conservation experts and the architectural historians. For example, the inscription criteria
have clearly prioritized monumental architectural relics, at the expense of the other elements that distinguish
the urban image, namely, the paths, edges, districts and nodes (Lynch, 1960). Most importantly, the inscription
criteria have disregarded that experts like M.R.G. Conzen (1960) attributed the picturesque of an historic
urban landscape – or what Gordon Cullen (1971) had later dubbed the ‘serial vision’ – to its morphological
characteristics. Conzen (1960: 3) stipulated that ‘Morphologically [a town’s character] �nds expression in the
physiognomy or townscape, which is a combination of town plan, pattern of building forms, and pattern of
urban land use’. Numerous theoretical and empirical �ndings have supported Conzen’s claim (see for example
Conzen, 1981; Lilley et al., 2005; Pendlebury, 2009; Samuels, 1990; Whitehand, 1990). Through highlighting
the pattern of land use, Conzen’s work in�uenced the understanding of the relationship between the spatial
distribution and the urban form on the one hand, and the socio-economic processes and power relations
on the other hand. Certainly, Edward W. Soja (2003: 155) asserted that ‘space is not an empty dimension
along which social groupings become structured, but has to be considered in terms of its involvement in
the constitution of systems of interaction’. David Harvey (2001) pointed out the interconnections between
economy, power and spatial distribution while Manuel Castells (Castells, 2002) addressed the links between
information �ows and the contemporary city. Further, Joseph Rykwert (1976) analysed the links between
political and religious power and urban form whereby a city’s cosmic form conveys its distinctive religious
and political status. Conversely, Peter G. Rowe (1997) negated the notion that the design of urban civic
spaces is a social, political and economic representation and instead considered it a cultural expression of
an organized civic society that is divorced from the in�uences of market forces (Rowe, 1997: 204). In the
context of Arabic-Islamic cities, Besim Hakim (1986) argued that the merging of religious rules (that is, the
law) and the socio-cultural norms (that is, the traditional
rules) had impacted the spatial
and architectural organization of these cities.
The recent heritage frameworks in general and the world heritage frameworks in particular have attempted
to encapsulate these expert views in addressing the values and signi�cance of historic urban landscapes.
UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape stressed that: ‘This concept encompasses
layers of symbolic signi�cance, intangible heritage, perception of values, and interconnections between the
composite elements of the historic urban landscape, as well as local knowledge including building practices
and management of natural resources’ (van Oers, 2010: 12; UNESCO, 2011b). Surely, building on the idea
of multi-layered signi�cance, the forthcoming chapters on place-making and place experience ground the
distinctiveness of the historic urban landscape in the perspectives of the local communities, the foreign
tourists and the conservation experts. But �rstly, the next section discusses the documentation methods that
MacLean (1996: 12) has de�ned the documentation of the historic urban landscape simply as ‘information’.
Often compared to a medical exam (MacLean, 1996), documentation provides an in-depth understanding of
all the aspects related to the historic urban landscape (Mason, 2002: 5). It entails gathering all the available
information about this landscape by reviewing all written documents like historic accounts, historic and
contemporary archives and specialized research (Tyler, 2000). Documentation typically precedes any planning
or intervention thus ensures their soundness (Mason, 2002: 5). In order to establish continuous monitoring,
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
documentation continues throughout the management of, and intervention in, the historic urban landscape
Documentation assumes a particular importance for historic urban landscapes where the complexity of
the overlapping – and often competing – values deems it dif�cult to single one documentation method that
yields perfect or complete information (Mason, 2002: 5, 14). Accordingly, I distinguish between three distinct
discourses in the documentation of the historic urban landscape: the documentation of the architectural and
the visual qualities; the documentation of the spatial and morphological qualities; and the documentation of
To begin with, the architectural and visual discourse underscores primarily those qualities of the cultural
heritage that speak to its physical appearance and historic status including its age, architectural style and visual
aesthetic. This discourse also incorporates the qualities of integrity and conservation, such as the altered or
authentic status of the historic urban landscape. Field surveys and in situ measured drawings have been used
to document the architectural and visual components. Additionally, the increased concern for the physical
architectural authenticity led to the development of highly technical photographic methods that document
intricate details like the decorative elements of building façades (Tyler, 2000). For example, recti�ed
photography uses grids to de�ne scales and to provide reference points for a more accurate documentation
while photogrammetry pairs photos in a stereoscopic viewer to create a more precise realistic visual record
(Nichols, 1997; Tyler, 2000).
Secondly, with the introduction of the concept of ‘historic urban landscapes’ in later statutes like the Bruges
Resolution and the Washington Charter (ICOMOS, 1987, ICOMOS, 1975), a need for new value assessment
methods that cater for the spatial and morphological values emerged. Conzen’s (1960) seminal study of Alnwick
in Northumberland, England, constituted the cornerstone for the evolution of a new spatial morphological
method – one that considers the townscape qualities. Such a method accounts for an urban landscape’s historical
spatial arrangements and morphological characteristics through spatial recording and analytical techniques that
include metrological and town-plan analyses (see for example Lilley et al., 2005; Lo, 2007; Whitehand, 2001).
The metrological analysis is akin to the in situ measured drawings of architectural physical features in that it
depends on �eld surveys with the objective of reconstructing the historical town plans (Lilley et al., 2005). The
town-plan analysis investigates, according to Conzen, the ‘topographical arrangement of an urban built-up area
in all its man-made features’ (Conzen, 1960: 4–5). Town-plan analysis is primarily concerned with three ‘plan
elements’, namely, ‘streets and their arrangement in a street-system; plots and their aggregation in street-blocks;
and buildings or, more precisely, their block-plans’ (Ibid.: 5). Conzen developed the town-plan analysis method
during his studies of English medieval towns where he used later eighteenth- and nineteenth-century plans to
trace the medieval and post-medieval developments of the streets, the plots and the building footprints. Thus
the town-plan analysis bestows particular attention on inferring historical developments in the urban form from
the more recent plans and from �eld observations (Conzen, 1960). In other words, the town-plan analysis is
concerned with change over time (Vernez Moudon, 1997).
Contemporary spatial technologies build to some extent on Conzen’s town-plan analysis (Koster, 1998;
Lo, 2007). One of the pioneering adoptions of information technology in documenting historical urban
morphology is the University of Pisa’s study of Capri, Italy, where the team innovatively combined town-
plan analysis and computer-aided design (CAD) applications. Later research in England and in continental
Europe combined computerized technologies and early cadastral plans to provide accurate reconstructions of
the plot boundaries at the time of these plans (Koster, 1998: 7). Generally speaking, the early attempts to use
spatial technologies sought �rst to derive the historical plot patterns, considering them the smallest and most
fundamental units of the historical spatial arrangement (Conzen, 1960; Whitehand, 1990; Whitehand, 2001):
then, spatial techniques, especially geographic information systems (GIS) and image processing, were employed
to document the historical plot patterns (Koster, 1998). The strengths of GIS as a documentation tool stem
from its incorporation of the three principal town-plan elements – the street network, the blocks and parcels
and the building footprints (Koster, 1998). Therefore, GIS facilitates an understanding of the contemporary
and the historic associations among these elements and, by consequence, the historic and the contemporary
factors that in�uence the historic urban landscape (McCarthy, 2004). GIS may also be combined with other
types of information technologies, such as the global positioning system (GPS) and Space Syntax, which
enable the documentation of the morphological changes over time, for example by digitizing historic maps
Documentation and Value Assessments
and then comparing them to contemporary conditions (Karimi, 2000; Lo and Yeung, 2002). As an example, in
their study of the medieval built form of Winchelsea in England, Lilley et al. (2005) used GPS to survey and
map the visible medieval remains and, thus, provided accurate data that complemented previous metrological
analyses. They then incorporated the data in ArcGIS, reconstructed the medieval town and were even able to
generate three-dimensional morphological analyses (Lilley et al., 2005). These and other studies corroborate
the potential of GIS to facilitate an analysis of the three principal town-plan elements: the street networks,
blocks and parcels and building footprints (Koster, 1998), and, by consequence, to facilitate an analysis of
the associations among the various factors that in�uence the historic urban landscape (McCarthy, 2004). GIS
and the other spatial techniques such as space syntax can also document morphological changes over time by
comparing digitized historic maps to contemporary ones (Karimi, 2000; Lo, 2007). The proponents of GIS
have also claimed that it promotes broader participation in urban preservation through applications such as
Internet mapping, which allow the dissemination of information to a larger audience (McCarthy, 2004). GIS
has been criticized, however, for being too broad and for not recording details at the building level (Ford
et al., 1999) – a weakness that, some have argued, may be overcome by combining GIS with other methods
that augment its spatial-recording abilities by providing descriptive data, such as by using traditional methods
like �eld drawings, or by deploying CAD applications (Elkadi and Pendlebury, 2001; Ford et al., 1999;
Lastly, the socio-cultural discourse demands interdisciplinary, grounded and inclusive value
assessment methods that address values from the perspective of the general public, such as spiritual values
(Mason, 2002: 15), aesthetic preferences and historical associations (Tyler, 2000). Dolores Hayden (1999),
for example, used story-telling – an ethnographic method that documents oral traditions – to elucidate,
through social memory, the local perceptions toward historic urban landscapes: such methods that incorporate
perspectives other than the experts’ reveal the value and signi�cance of unlikely elements in the historic
urban landscape (Hayden, 1999). Indeed, the local inhabitants of York, England, considered the ordinary
and the mundane elements in their historic urban landscape as signi�cant as the monumental, and, hence,
prompted Lord Esher to incorporate these ordinary and mundane elements in his urban conservation plans
(Pendlebury, 2009). Unconventional methods such as oral traditions may also provide a wealth of information
on the practical values of the historic urban landscape, especially its value as a capital resource (Olsson, 2008).
The values that emerge from a grounded approach thus unravel qualities that contribute to the distinctive
identity of the historic urban landscape and to its sense of place while simultaneously offering an opportunity
for future economic development (Nasser, 2003).
More recently, the emphasis on ‘change’ in historic urban landscapes has also permeated the value
assessment methods, whereby rather than separating the documentation of the physical changes and the values,
it is currently ‘the relationship between change and value’ that attains importance (Taylor and Cassar, 2008: 7).
Given the capricious nature of heritage values, especially in historic urban landscapes, it is the documentation
that establishes the links between change and value. In addition to guiding the intervention strategies, such
links also facilitate an interpretation of past and present changes and of the values through the historic urban
landscape. Accordingly, intervention necessitates – and also, simultaneously occurs through – the representation
of all the possible interpretations of this landscape (Ibid.). Therefore, interdisciplinary methods – through
participatory and inclusive value assessments – advance the documentation of the varying perspectives on
the values of the historic urban landscape (Tonkin, 2006: 551). Such a combination of diverse perspectives
and of interdisciplinary methods stand in stark contrast to the ‘static models of signi�cance’ that depend on
pre-set typologies that ‘capture’ rather than ‘identify’ values (Stephenson, 2008: 129; Herlin, 2004: 400).
This approach presents a direct criticism of the world heritage criteria whose imposed typologies may –
notwithstanding their seemingly all-encompassing nature – fail to grasp the local perspective toward the
signi�cance of the historic urban landscape (Stephenson, 2008: 128). The absence of such a local perspective
Notwithstanding this socio-cultural discourse, the implications on the future of the historic urban landscape
warrant that the documentation methods transcend data collection to become an ‘information strategy’ – one
that is ‘accessible, effective, ef�cient, replicable, and accurate’ (MacLean, 1996: 12–13). So how were the
historic urban landscapes of Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre documented? How were the valuable and the signi�cant
urban elements assessed? How did the documentation and the assessments impact the setting of intervention
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
priorities in each city’s planning initiatives? And how do the �ndings of the documentation relate to each
city’s inscription criteria and outstanding universal value?
Aleppo: A Spatial Approach
Urban planning in Aleppo during the �rst half of the twentieth century prioritized the automobile traf�c as
evident in the Gutan proposal and the Banchoya plan (Bianca et al., 1980; Windelberg et al., 2001). Stefano
Bianca and his team of experts criticized these earlier plans in their 1980 report for UNESCO (see Chapter 2)
because they emphasized vehicular movement, isolated the historic monuments and fragmented Aleppo’s
historic landscape (Bianca et al., 1980). This report, which heralded Aleppo’s inscription on the World
Experience has shown that the individual monuments should not be isolated from the urban context to which
they are related. This is particularly true in the case of Islamic towns, where each single element is usually
integrated into larger units of the urban fabric in such a way as to form a complex, closely knit architectural
cluster. Conserving the monuments of an Islamic town therefore also implies the protection and reinforcement
Notwithstanding this recommendation, criteria iii and iv, which justi�ed Aleppo’s inscription on the World
Heritage List (Table 2.1), underscored the monuments of past eras. According to criterion (iii):
The old city of Aleppo re�ects the rich and diverse cultures of its successive occupants. Many periods of
history have left their in�uence in the architectural fabric of the city. Remains of Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman,
Byzantine and Ayyubid structures and elements are incorporated in the massive surviving Citadel. The diverse
mixture of buildings including the Great Mosque founded under the Umayyads and rebuilt in the 12th century;
the 12th century Madrasa Halawiye, which incorporates remains of Aleppo’s Christian cathedral, together with
other mosques and madrasas, suqs and khans represents an exceptional re�ection of the social, cultural and
Simultaneously, criterion (iv) stipulated that:
Aleppo is an outstanding example of an Ayyubid 12th century city with its military forti�cations constructed as
its focal point following the success of Salah El-Din against the Crusaders. The encircling ditch and defensive
wall above a massive, sloping, stone-faced glacis, and the great gateway with its machicolations comprise a
major ensemble of military architecture at the height of Arab dominance. Works of the 13th–14th centuries
including the great towers and the stone entry bridge reinforce the architectural quality of this ensemble.
Surrounding the citadel within the city are numerous mosques from the same period including the Madrasah al
These two criteria led to Aleppo’s statement of outstanding universal value, which naturally underscored
Aleppo’s monuments:
The Citadel, the 12th-century Great Mosque and various 16th and 17th-centuries madrasas, residences, khans
and public baths, all form part of the city’s cohesive, unique urban fabric […] The monumental Citadel of
Aleppo, rising above the suqs, mosques and madrasas of the old walled city, is testament to Arab military might
from the 12th to the 14th centuries’ (UNESCO, 1992–2014c).
By recognizing only fragmented monuments, Aleppo’s inscription criteria and statement of outstanding
universal value overlooked the other elements of urban form including the path network, the residential
districts (that is, the ordinary and the mundane in the city’s townscape), the major nodes and the city’s edges
(Lynch 1960) – all of which had contributed to Aleppo’s distinctive character. For example, these criteria
Documentation and Value Assessments
disregarded the links between the
, the Great Mosque and the other civic structures that had formed
a monumental corridor to the Citadel (Figures 2.1 and 2.2). Further, Aleppo’s statement of outstanding
universal value overlooked the fundamental factors that contributed to Aleppo’s townscape, particularly the
combination of the town plan and the patterns of both the building form and the land use (Conzen, 1960: 3).
Most importantly, this statement discounted the local perspective toward the values and signi�cance of
Aleppo’s landscape. It also offered a museum-like perception of Aleppo’s historic landscape from which
conspicuously absent were Aleppo’s historic and contemporary socio-economic, cultural and political
The walled city that grew up around the citadel bears evidence of the early Graeco-Roman street layout and
contains remnants of 6th-century Christian buildings, medieval walls and gates, mosques and madrasas relating
to the Ayyubid and Mameluke development of the city, and later mosques and palaces of the Ottoman period.
Outside the walls, the Bab al-Faraj quarter to the North-West, the Jdeide area to the north and other areas
to the south and west, contemporary with these periods of occupation of the walled city contain important
religious buildings and residences […] the surviving ensemble of major buildings as well as the coherence
of the urban character of the suqs and residential streets and lanes all contribute to the Outstanding Universal
Value (UNESCO, 1992–2014c).
This museum-like perception of Aleppo in its statement of outstanding universal value in fact contradicted
with Bianca et al’.s recommendation to steer away from a policy that ‘advocates the transformation of large
urban areas into a museum’ (Bianca et al., 1980: 6).
Probably due to Aleppo’s history of spatial planning that prioritized vehicular circulation, Bianca et al’.s
report also deployed spatial analyses that recommended the zoning of land uses and the management of
vehicular traf�c. Accordingly, it proposed several zones that would gradually traverse from the New City
into the Old City of Aleppo and that were paralleled by vehicular traf�c that also gradually diminished with
the transition from the New to the Old City until only pedestrians were allowed within the historic core
(Ibid., 1980). Completely absent from these spatial recommendations, however, were the urban conservation
and rehabilitation strategies. Certainly, this absence persisted since Aleppo’s registration as an historic
monument in 1978 until 1990 when a new act �nally regulated the building practices in Aleppo. The Building
Control Code Decision of the Aleppo City Council-1990, which was shortened to Decision 39/1990 was
based on a pre-existing law
and which regulated the building practices through – mostly – spatial planning
tools like plot divisions, building and land use and optimal interior open space. While Decision 39/1990 built
mostly on these spatial tools, it also regulated the building heights and controlled the issuing of building
This propensity toward spatial planning persisted through the Project for the Rehabilitation of the Old City
of Aleppo, which commenced in 1992. The use of GIS constituted part of the technical cooperation agreement
between the Syrian government and the then GTZ; however, the Syrian planners were initially reluctant to
incorporate GIS into the project due to their concerns about a hitherto untried method in Syria – raising
uncertainties about the nature of its outcomes and its abilities to link the needs to the desired outcomes. But
after a brief period of conducting manual surveys that yielded large amounts of fragmented and incompatible
data sets, the team conceded to deploy GIS.
The data from the manual surveys, which had primarily
documented Aleppo’s physical elements, constituted the foundations of the newly formed database and was
Aleppo’s inhabitants.
Aleppo’s planners lauded the bene�ts of GIS for documenting and managing Aleppo’s historic landscape.
From an analytical point of view, these planners emphasized how GIS emancipated them from the con�nes
of romanticized perceptions of the courtyard houses and from the reductionist theories on the Islamic city as
a homogeneous urban landscape. Instead, they shared how the analytical tools of GIS facilitated an alternate
understanding, and by consequence different values, for these courtyard houses – ones that are based on
 This older law was known as the Law of Local Administration number 15 and dates back to 1971.
 The Arab Development Fund provided funding to support the acquisition of the necessary hardware and software
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
spatial distribution and typologies rather than on monumentality and architectural aesthetic. Indeed, Ramadan
(2003: 5) asserted that four distinct layers were generated from the base map, namely: the streets, parcels,
patios and plot layers. These had supposedly advanced the town-plan analyses by revealing new �ndings about
Aleppo’s morphological formation that refuted earlier assumptions about the homogeneity of its plots, about
the relationship between the public and private open spaces and about the neighbourhood structure among
others (Ramadan, 2001). Most importantly, and in accordance with town-plan studies, GIS also promoted an
understanding of ‘change’ in Aleppo’s historic landscape through comparisons between the historic and the
contemporary conditions, hence facilitated the detection of the shifts in the land use and in the street structure
over the decades (Ramadan, 2001; also see Conzen, 1961 and Vernez Moudon, 1997 on the notion of change).
A planner explained:
It was plot by plot. We had forty seven thousand questionnaires to �ll in, and to feed all the data in GIS. A huge
work, which cost us a lot of money, but it was worth it. But they have done such a survey, not as comprehensive
as this one but they have made quite a bit of survey [sic] in 1994 on the base of which they had made the
Development Plan. Now we can compare and see the trends after ten years, after eleven years (interview on
The Syrian planners in particular praised the adoption of GIS for building local capacity and for instituting
a centralized yet compatible database for all the agencies involved in planning for Aleppo. From the outset,
GTZ had trained a group of public sector Syrian architects and engineers in the use of GIS and its applications.
Other planners however relayed that these public sector planners had founded a private architectural �rm
were henceforth sub-contracted as local consultants on all issues related to the collection and the management
of the data. Moreover, the planners extolled the bene�ts of the compatibility of the GIS database across
multiple agencies as well as its combination of visual and statistical components. Such qualities, in their
opinion, had promoted communication among the planners, lessened inconsistencies and fragmentations in
the decisions across all the involved agencies, encouraged collaborative representation of these agencies’
Once the decision to adopt a GIS database was taken, the planning team sought to de�ne ‘the uses and
the users of the GIS’, and, accordingly, assessed the needs of the project, established the types of analyses to
be conducted and, by consequence, the types of data to be collected (Ramadan, 2001: 5). Such an approach,
which entailed a priori assumptions about the types of data and analyses, set predeterminations that dictated
the ensuing intervention strategies as the discussions in the subsequent chapters on place-making and place
experience will reveal. Moreover, a critical analysis of the documentation approach in Aleppo revealed that
the dependence on the spatial components of GIS as a ‘do-all’ tool (Aangeenbrug, 1991) led to disregarding
its potential for linking spatial data sets to other descriptive ones (Khirfan, 2010a). Multiple repercussions
emerged due to such an approach. To begin with, the spatial focus of the documentation compromised the
ability to expose the typologies of the buildings and architectural elements – important aspects of Aleppo’s
townscape. Additionally, and although the Development Plan, which was the primary outcome of Aleppo’s
documentation, had broadly recognized the town-plan and its components, it had nevertheless overlooked
the socio-economic and cultural conditions of the historic urban landscape, especially the links between the
land uses and the livelihoods of the local inhabitants. More speci�cally, the documentation had disregarded
the rationale behind these conditions and how they had actually in�uenced Aleppo’s historic landscape. For
example, the data analysis and �ndings overlooked the role of the traditional
laws in shaping Aleppo’s
townscape as well as the social networks and clan af�liations that had shaped the residential quarters or the
inheritance laws that had formed the parcels and plot sizes and which later impacted the property ownership –
all of which had repercussions on the place-making initiatives in Aleppo as will be discussed in Chapters 4
, and Zeitlian Watenpaugh, 2004 on social networks).
 This �rm was named Suradec, acronym for Sustainable Urban Rehabilitation Architectural Design and Engineering
Consortium. The Suradec team assumed the role of a GIS private consultant in the Project for the Rehabilitation of the Old
City of Aleppo. It seems that some of the founding members of Suradec had later founded the Loggia Engineering Group.
Documentation and Value Assessments
Furthermore, other planners, mostly external to the Project for the Rehabilitation of the Old City of
Aleppo, highlighted the challenges of documenting a complex urban setting as Aleppo’s, and also mentioned
the centralized control over the data sets (also see Ramadan et al., 2004). Also, while the primary objective
of the project was to preserve Aleppo’s residential function, the spatial documentation did not capitalize
on the opportunity to include the perspectives of Aleppo’s inhabitants. Considered primarily the domain of
professionals, planning in Aleppo adopted a technocratic approach from the outset that began with dependence
on GIS and continued throughout the place-making process. According to this approach, Aleppo’s inhabitants
were considered strictly as a source of information about the physical infrastructure while the potential of GIS
to serve an inclusive or participatory planning process was never capitalized on. A planner shared: ‘we had
started to build data that is speci�c to the Old City on the basis of local residents’ perceptions to a level you
might say 60% and 40% technical analyses’. When probed further, this planner elaborated:
… when we built the infrastructure-speci�c map it was related to the residents themselves and to the information
that they are providing because they are the ones living in the Old City and know where the blockage happens
and know where all issues are […] if you do not take this information from them [it] will cost you much more
It is imperative to mention that in 2008 GTZ established a website titled ‘Toolkit for Urban Conservation
and Development’ that presented the Project for the Rehabilitation of the Old City of Aleppo as an ideal
case study
(GTZ, 2008). While the detailed information and the downloadable documents on this website
disseminated the experience of GTZ, they nonetheless targeted professional conservation experts who would
have been �uent in English rather than the Arabic-speaking inhabitants of Aleppo. A planner criticized that:
‘It is a lot easier to print brochures than to sit down and really �gure out what is happening on the ground, and
which is something I fear that the project has gotten a lot more interested in printing brochures and promoting
itself than promoting the Old City’ (interview on 9 June 2005).
Al-Salt: Architectural Heritage
Sensing the threats that were facing al-Salt during the 1980s, Salt Development Corporation contracted
the Royal Scienti�c Society to study the urban architectural heritage of al-Salt and to propose intervention
strategies (see Chapter 2). Consequently, the Royal Scienti�c Society
conducted �eld surveys and
documented al-Salt’s entire historic landscape. Two sets of publications emerged from this documentation
effort: a one-volume report that documented al-Salt’s architectural heritage (Royal Scienti�c Society, 1990a),
and a three-volume report that provided detailed patterns and typological studies. Although the latter did not
speci�cally refer to the townscape of al-Salt, nor did it use the terms ‘town-plan’ or ‘urban morphology’, it
nonetheless proposed typologies that classi�ed all the townscape elements of al-Salt including the blocks and
plots, the street network and the public
(singular
and the nearly 900 historic buildings (Royal
Scienti�c Society, 1990b). In addition, the last volume of this report, which was titled ‘A Plan for Action’,
emphasized the collective impact of these components in shaping al-Salt’s townscape and their relation to
the natural setting. It also contained detailed design and budgetary guidelines for a proposed rehabilitation of
the buildings (Royal Scienti�c Society, 1990b). A lack of funding combined with governmental bureaucracy
precluded the implementation of these proposals and, thus, only sporadic renovations of a few of the important
During the early 1990s, the Jordanian and Japanese governments signed a series of cooperation agreements
that aimed at stimulating the Jordanian economy, one of which involved the Japan International Cooperation
Agency (JICA) and targeted the development of heritage tourism (JICA, undated). JICA conducted a study
to understand tourism in Jordan, particularly focusing on the demand-supply chain and drawing primarily on
 The Royal Scienti�c Society’s team was supported by dozens of interning students from the architecture
departments from the University of Jordan in Amman and the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
the statistical data of the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
While the resulting multi-volume
report from this study concluded that ‘the basic character of tourism in Jordan will remain centered around
its rich history and culture’, it simultaneously criticized the ‘Over emphasis on antiquities’ (Nippon Koei
Co. et al., 1996a: 9). Instead, this report recommended the development of six alternative tourist destinations
in Jordan, one of which was the Historic Old Salt Development Project which it foresaw as a pioneer project
that would mark the transition ‘from Antiquities to Cultural’ tourism in Jordan, and would also serve as a
model for other Jordanian towns (Nippon Koei Co. et al., 1996a: 40). JICA’s project became the �rst in a
series of three tourism development projects in al-Salt; it was followed by the Second and the Third Tourism
Development Projects that were funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
and the World Bank (United States Agency for International Development, 2011; World Bank, 2005).
The documentation that preceded JICA’s project primarily depended on secondary data sources with
minimal in situ involvement. In fact, it seemed that only one expert had actually conducted �eldwork in
al-Salt, mainly collecting artefacts for a proposed museum. A planner admitted ‘we dispatched one female
worker and she was collecting many local artefacts to be displayed from the community’ (interview on 24
May 2005). Thus in addition to the statistical tourism data from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities,
JICA’s report primarily extracted maps and budgetary estimates from the reports by the Royal Scienti�c
Society – often without acknowledging the sources of these data. Certainly, the documents corresponded
to each other and even contained identical maps, design drawings and budgetary details for the proposed
rehabilitation interventions. The planning documents for the subsequent Second and Third Tourism
Development Projects in turn cited the already abased information in JICA’s reports without referring to, and
apparently without consulting, the original Royal Scienti�c Society volumes (see for example: United States
Agency for International Development, 2011; United States Agency for International Development, 2007).
Notwithstanding this reliance on the Royal Scienti�c Society’s studies, the ensuing plans differed signi�cantly
in their goals and objectives. The Royal Scienti�c Society’s reports had emphasized the social value of al-
Salt’s historic landscape, including the housing needs and the revitalization of the urban core. In contrast, the
reports by JICA, USAID and the World Bank underscored ‘product development’ anchored in the rationale
that ‘Jordan must prepare itself to manage its architectural heritage, which has considerable cultural and
commercial value
’ (Nippon Koei Co. et al., 1996a: 28, italics mine). Embedded within JICA’s report was
the assumption that such product development would depend primarily on the visual aesthetic of al-Salt’s
architectural heritage in order to attract new tourist segments to Jordan. Principally then, these projects have
emphasized, as evident in their nomenclature, tourism – an emphasis that the subsequent chapters on place-
making and place experience argue has prevailed through policies and intervention strategies that prioritized
These factors combined induced a negligence of al-Salt’s townscape, especially an understanding of its
urban morphology and town-plan. Several other factors exacerbated this oversight including the absence
in Jordan of urban planning both as a profession and as a discipline. Until very recently, almost all the
Jordanian heritage conservation experts and professional planners have been trained primarily as architects
who inevitably continue to underscore the architectural values of al-Salt’s stone façades at the expense of its
urban morphology. For instance, even the local architectural historians sanction this view such as the studies
on al-Salt by al-Zoabi and by Daher, both of which underscored building façades and isolated architectural
elements of singular buildings disassociated from their surrounding urban fabric. Al-Zoabi’s methodology
depended primarily on static snapshots of only the main façades of select buildings rather than their three-
dimensional form or their situation within the urban context (Al-Zoabi, 2004). Not differently, and although
Daher acknowledged that the urban rehabilitation in al-Salt had depended primarily on ‘shock treatments and
urban cosmetics’, he nevertheless claimed that the rehabilitation of a single building, the
Abū Jāber
mansion,
would counter all the weaknesses in the urban rehabilitation once it was converted into the Historic Old
 These are basic annual data that typically feature the primary tourist destinations in Jordan, the numbers of tourists
at each of these destinations and the length of stay and spending patterns of these tourists. These data are publically
accessible and can be downloaded from: http://www.mota.gov.jo/ar/Default.aspx?tabid 120
Documentation and Value Assessments
Salt Museum
(Daher, 2005: 299). Not surprisingly then that the cultural signi�cance of al-Salt’s historic
landscape in general, and from the perspective of the three tourism development projects in particular, ‘was
reduced to the facile emphasis on the architectural aesthetics of isolated façades at the expense of the more
fundamental aspects of its urban morphology’ (Khirfan, 2013: 313).
These shortcomings were re�ected in al-Salt’s nomination package for the World Heritage List when
The transformation of Salt from a rural settlement into an urban center, the evolution of the �ve types of
architectural styles within a very short period of time, the use of yellow soft stone, the elegant elevations,
decorative gateways and elaborate carvings, the stairs connecting the different neighbourhoods within the
city, are all testimony to an exquisite architecture worthy of protection and preservation (Abu Salim, 2003: 3).
This emphasis on architectural styles was furthered in criterion (v), which centred around al-Salt’s architectural
In the second half of the nineteenth century, Salt became the administrative and economic center for the whole
region. The architectural style was thus transformed from rural to urban in character passing through �ve
different stages of evolution (Abu Salim, 2003: 3).
Absent from the values and signi�cance assessments of al-Salt’s urban landscape were the socio-cultural
and economic aspects of its local inhabitants and, particularly, these aspects’ in�uence on the morphology
of the city through land use, mobility and circulation and through the patterns of building forms and masses.
Moreover, while the documentation evoked the signi�cance of the architecture of singular buildings, the
absence of a local narrative in the documentation processes resulted in the omission of the culturally signi�cant
stories behind some of these buildings, especially al-Salt Secondary School, the �rst in the kingdom and
whose alumni continue to this day to prevail the upper echelons of the Jordanian government. Thus, in the
absence of a local narrative in al-Salt’s documentation, a national perspective emerged – a typical propensity
of representation in Jordan (Massad, 2001). Instead of linking the architectural styles to the history of al-Salt’s
inhabitants, especially the different migration waves that arrived from Nablus, Damascus and other Levantine
cities, these architectural styles were associated with the history of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and its
foundation in the 1920s. Indeed, in al-Salt’s nomination package, criterion (iii) highlighted al-Salt’s national
… the only example that can wholly represent the culture and history of modern Jordan. It has been the �rst
capital for it. At the same time, it contains the most intact piece of urban fabric related to Jordanian culture
which is represented in the interlocking urban fabric of the city, the old markets selling traditional goods, the
old buildings narrating the history and traditions of the area, and the closeness and warmth of its inhabitants
Collectively, these inscription criteria based al-Salt’s outstanding universal value around the political-
Salt is the oldest and most important city in the history of modern Jordan; it has played a great role in the
creation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and was its �rst capital. In the late nineteenth century, it was the
centre of government, business and commerce, which attracted the money and skilled craftsmen (Abu Salim,
According to al-Salt’s statement of outstanding universal value, this political-economic �ourishing led to al-
Salt’s unique townscape and elaborate architectural styles:
 It is worth mentioning that in his article Daher acknowledges his personal role as the architect commissioned to
mansion to a museum (Daher, 2005).
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
As a result, Salt was transformed from a rural settlement into a rich city with a unique townscape and elaborate
architecture […]. The in�ux of various in�uences led to a change in the architectural style passing through 5
periods in 100 years. With the development of architectural styles, construction methods also developed. The
architectural development in Salt had a great in�uence on the development of architectural styles in the region
Although this statement rightfully respected the heritage value of al-Salt’s architectural styles and mentioned its
unique townscape, it nonetheless completely overlooked the factors that led to this townscape. This statement
especially overlooked al-Salt’s town-plan and the three-dimensional building forms that had emerged from
the combination of its natural setting and its socio-economic and cultural networks. In particular, it was the
clan and tribal networks, the location of the water springs and the topography that had strongly in�uenced
al-Salt’s spatial distribution and urban morphology. Furthermore, this statement neglected the signi�cance
of the cultural fusion that ensued from the arrival of merchant families from other cities in
Bilād ash-Shām
especially from Nablus to al-Salt, and also from the missionaries who collectively enriched the local culture
and generated a local vernacular. The diagrams in Figures 2.4 and 2.5 and Plates 2–5 (Chapter 2) convey
the combined outcome of these factors that manifested, �rstly, in the arrangement of the terraces along the
mountainsides; secondly, in the network of the movement along the horizontal streets and the vertical
and, thirdly, in the relationship between the public, semi-public and private spaces. While cognizant of the
distinctiveness of al-Salt’s townscape, during their interviews, the local planners seemed unable to identify the
speci�c physiognomy as de�ned by Conzen (1960) nor did they seem to be aware of the role of the traditional
rules (Hakim, 1986) nor of how these two concepts applied to al-Salt’s townscape – as in Figure 2.5.
This is probably due to the fact that, as architects, they focused solely on the architectural elements – namely,
façades in this instance. Indeed, the statement of outstanding universal value alluded to, but did not directly
In summary, the city of Salt is unique in Jordan, and probably in the whole of the Near East. The golden
stone houses clustered on the slopes of the hills without obstructing the view or intruding into the privacy of
surrounding buildings re�ects the social relations that prevailed between the inhabitants, the unity and historic
signi�cance of the architecture dating from the city’s ‘Golden Age’ between 1890 and 1920, and the centre’s
survival as the last bustling traditional market-town. This mixture of heritage, charm and tourism potential is
Acre: A Layered City
After nearly four decades, Old Acre Development Company eventually acceded to explore alternatives
other than transferring Acre’s inhabitants to
. A planner shared: ‘So today, the authorities and the
government �nally got into their head and comprehended that Acre’s inhabitants will not leave’ (interview
on 6 January 2006). This coincided in 1990 with
’s nomination, and UNESCO’s eventual selection, of
Acre among 100 sites worldwide that best represented the medieval Crusader heritage (Torstrick, 2000) (see
Chapter 2). Simultaneously, Old Acre Development Company was keen to take action in Acre, motivated by
the necessity to accommodate the needs of the nearly one million national and international tourists who visit
Acre annually (Rahamimoff, 1997), and also by the forecasts that anticipated an in�ux of Christian pilgrims
to the Holy Land in 2000 (interviews with several planners, also see Hecht, 1997). Thus in 1992 Old Acre
Development Company, in its capacity as a representative of the coalition of public agencies involved in Acre,
entrusted architects Arie Rahamimoff and Saadia Mendel with proposing a comprehensive development plan
for Acre and speci�cally requested that they ‘make Acre into a City of Tourism’ (Kesten, 1993: 4). One source
relayed how, as the leading architects, Rahamimoff and Mendel ‘proposed a one-year plan during which they
wanted to study as many aspects as possible of Acre’. This source shared how ‘It was very clear that if you do
not deal with all aspects of life of the city, it will be impossible to develop sustainable tourism’. Accordingly,
‘Rahamimoff and Mendel established an interdisciplinary team that included a consultant on social issues,
an economist, conservation expert, traf�c engineer, infrastructure engineer [sic]’. And this source con�rmed
Documentation and Value Assessments
that ‘The �rst thing [the planning team] realized is that it is impossible to prepare a plan for tourism without
dealing with the whole city’ (interview on 10 January 2006).
Consequently, these various experts concentrated their documentation efforts on the triad of: surveys of
the socio-economic conditions of Acre’s inhabitants; architectural surveys; and surveys of tourism activities.
Several of the planners in Acre highlighted the role of the social expert on their planning team and stressed
that a combination of her academic expertise and Palestinian Arab background granted her access to Acre’s
Palestinian Arab inhabitants. A planner shared: ‘we had a social consultant, a sociologist […] she was born
in Acre. She was born in the Old City, and she knew everyone’ (interview on 26 December 2005). Most
importantly, this expert’s presence on the planning team triggered a positive participatory process as one
planner relayed: ‘In the master plan there was a multidisciplinary team and one of the team was […] a social
and she was the link between the team and the inhabitants of the Old City, and she also carried out a
survey of the people’s wishes – the inhabitants wishes’ (interview on 29 December 2005). The data from this
social survey provided the planning team with in-depth insights – hitherto unbeknown to planners – about the
strong place attachment among Acre’s inhabitants, their dire housing needs and their desire to be integrated
in the tourism development plans (interviews on 26 December 2005 and 10 January 2006). In particular, this
social survey revealed that the successful implementation of any urban rehabilitation and historic conservation
Simultaneous to the social surveys,
was sub-contracted as a consultant on historic conservation
and commenced with �eld surveys that documented all the architectural and spatial features of Acre’s historic
landscape including structures, architectural elements and public open spaces. From these data
identi�ed four levels of cultural signi�cance where Level A represented the most signi�cant structures –
monuments and sacred buildings whose authenticity was considered paramount. Level B included all the
archaeological buildings and ruins that preceded AD 1700.
Levels C and D referred to the ordinary and
the mundane in the historic urban landscape whereby Level C included those structures deemed of medium
signi�cance – mostly, residential and commercial buildings whose façades and exteriors contained features
that warranted conservation. Level D hence encompassed all the remaining residential and commercial
buildings in Acre whose architectural signi�cance was judged as minimal.
Lastly, Old Acre Development Company conducted its own surveys of tourism activities and identi�ed
the numbers of tourists, their origins (whether national or international) and their length of stay. By linking
the local statistics to national and regional ones, the planners discovered that Acre was the second most
visited tourist attraction by international tourists after Jerusalem. These analyses also revealed that, for the
most part, the tourists, regardless of their origins, were day-trippers – that is, tourists who visit Acre for one
day only without staying overnight. In addition, Old Acre Development Company surveyed the movement
of the tourists inside Acre and hence was able to identify their primary and secondary attractions and their
spatial distribution. Noteworthy of mention here are the academic studies that were conducted independently
from Old Acre Development Company and from the planning team, but which nonetheless added to the
knowledgebase on tourism in Acre and informed the planning process. Of particular interest were the studies
that tracked the spatial and the temporal behavioural patterns of the tourists in Acre using GPS devices (see
for example: Tchetchik et al., 2009; Shoval and Isaacson, 2007a and 2007b; Shoval, 2007).
Thus by the end of this year-long documentation of Acre’s conditions, the interdisciplinary planning
team was able to identify eight primary problems that warranted planning interventions (Kesten, 1993: 4).
Therefore, the place-making strategies for Acre included: infrastructure; population and housing; economic
development; archaeology; tourism services; garbage collection; marketing and promotion; and, lastly,
 When this social worker was contacted for the purposes of this study she refused to be interviewed or share any
information. Other planners and members of the local community relayed how, after her contribution to Rachamimoff
and Mendel’s team, the local residents became suspicious of her. One senior planner compared her situation to another
Palestinian Arab’s situation who also worked with Old Acre Development Company. This senior planner said: ‘I know now
that there is another gentleman named […]. He works for the [Old Acre Development Company], and I am not sure they
[local inhabitants] trust him 100% because he is working for the establishment but he is doing a serious effort over many
 Similar to Jordan, Israel’s antiquities laws build on those from the British Mandate era and encompass all sites,
structures and ruins that precede AD 1700.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
the planning, management, control and maintenance of Acre’s urban landscape (Rahamimoff, 1997). The
successful implementation of these place-making initiatives, which is discussed in detail in Chapters 4
and 5, led to Acre’s nomination to, and eventual inscription on, the World Heritage List in 2000. Interestingly
however, the rigorous documentation did not imbue Acre’s nomination criteria or its statement of outstanding
universal. The latter underscored the overlaid Crusader and Ottoman cities:
Acre is exceptional in that beneath its present-day appearance as a typical Moslem forti�ed city lie the remains
of an almost intact medieval city on the European model. It bears exceptional material testimony to the
Crusader kingdom established in the Holy Land in the 12th–14th centuries, and also to the Ottoman Empire in
Thus Acre’s statement of outstanding universal value justi�ed its inscription by how it had been:
Continuously settled from Phoenician times, was of major signi�cance during the Crusader period in the Holy
Land. Because of its position, located on a peninsula encompassing a natural bay, the city gained international
signi�cance from 1104 to 1291 as the capital of the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem following its development
as the Crusaders main port in the Holy Land [sic]. Whilst this strategically located port enabled it to become
a centre for international trade, its physical boundaries, delineated by surrounding walls and sea, created a
While this statement emphasized Acre’s natural setting and its in�uence on the formation of the Crusader
layer, it nonetheless overlooked the Crusader political-economic arrangements that yielded Acre’s distinctive
physiognomy, particularly its semi-autonomous historic quarters. The statement of outstanding universal
value stressed that the Ottoman city’s:
… unique character is in the substantial remains of the Crusader city that are preserved virtually intact beneath
the typical Ottoman city preserved till the present day, and have in recent years been revealed by scienti�c
excavation. The present townscape of the walled port-town is characteristic of Moslem perceptions of urban
design, with narrow winding streets and �ne public buildings and houses. Demonstrating the interchange of
mediaeval European and Middle-Eastern architecture, the city has some exceptional edi�ces, including a
Not surprisingly then, the adaptations of criteria (ii), (iii) and (v) to Acre disregarded the strong links between
the Crusader and the Ottoman layers, particularly in terms of the morphology and urban form, the building
materials and the relationship to the natural setting. According to criterion (ii): ‘Acre is an exceptional historic
town in that it preserves the substantial remains of its medieval Crusader buildings beneath the existing
Moslem forti�ed town dating from the 18th and 19th centuries’ (UNESCO, 1992–2014d). The absence of
links between the two layers is further manifested in criterion (iii), which overlooked Acre’s urban palimpsest
when it failed to link the layouts of its Crusader and Ottoman layers: ‘The remains of the Crusader town
of Acre, both above and below the present-day street level, provide an exceptional picture of the layout
and structures of the capital of the medieval Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem’ (UNESCO, 1992–2014d).
Furthermore, criterion (v) focused solely on the Ottoman layer: ‘Present-day Acre is an important example of
an Ottoman walled town’, and continued to highlight individual monuments: ‘with typical urban components
such as the citadel, mosques, khans, and baths well preserved, partly built on top of the underlying Crusader
structures’ (Ibid.). This criterion thus failed to link these monuments morphologically, or to connect them
spatially and functionally to Acre’s residential quarters.
Most importantly, by presenting only the Crusader and the Ottoman narratives, the inscription criteria
disregarded the other subtle – yet equally signi�cant – narratives in Acre’s historic landscape. Of particular
signi�cance is the
cultural heritage such as
– an important pilgrimage site for the followers
of the
faith (Plate 9). Also, the inscription criteria ignored the continuity in Acre’s historic urban
landscape and especially, the current life within it.
Documentation and Value Assessments
Table 3.1
The inscription criteria for Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
The Future Implications of the Documentation and Value Assessments
The discussion in this chapter revealed that meeting the criteria for the outstanding universal value that is
associated with the world heritage status bears implications on the future place-making initiatives of world
heritage sites in general and world heritage cities in particular. These implications, as distilled from the
case study cities, Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre, centre around four tensions: the monuments versus the urban
landscape; the layers versus the palimpsest of the historic urban landscape; the outstanding universal value
versus the local values; and the static snapshot versus the continuity of the historic urban landscape. But most
importantly, these tensions in�uence the place-making processes in the historic urban landscape.
To begin with, the monumental in the historic landscapes of Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre clearly gained
prominence in the adaptation of the inscription criteria for each. Aleppo’s inscription criteria highlighted its
Citadel, the Great Mosque and other monuments like the
) and
ḥammām
) among others (see UNESCO, 1992–2014c). Likewise, in al-Salt,
the inscription criteria emphasized not only the architectural styles of individual structures, but also, one
element therein contained, namely, their main façades – that is, frontal view (see Abu Salim, 2003). Further,
Acre’s inscription criteria underscored its ‘Crusader buildings’ underneath the ‘Ottoman urban components
such as the citadel, mosques, khans, and baths’ (UNESCO, 1992–2014d). This emphasis on the monuments
in the inscription criteria came at the expense of the coherent image of Christopher Alexander’s notion of
the wholeness of the historic urban landscape as Chapter 6 will reveal (Alexander, 1979). Such wholeness
accounts for the townscape or the physiognomy of the urban form that combines the town-plan, the pattern of
building forms and the pattern of land use (Conzen, 1960: 3) – morphological elements that the world heritage
inscription criteria continue to overlook. Subsequently, catering only for singular monuments in the ensuing
management plans jeopardizes the integrity of the historic urban landscape’s townscape as Chapters 4 and 6
The second tension arises between the emphasis on detached layers of the historic urban landscape
as opposed to a conceptualization of this landscape as a palimpsest which stems from the morphological
Palace or
in Acre
Source:
The author.
Documentation and Value Assessments
acceptance of change whereby cities’ urban forms continuously evolve and acquire new meanings and
functions over time (Vernez Moudon, 1997; also see Kostof, 1991). Therefore, the historic urban landscape
resembles a palimpsest whose text is effaced and thus can be reused multiple times; however, ‘as each era is
overtaken by the next, it leaves traces and redundancies, obsolescence and irrationalities’ all of which may
‘remain as a mark: the burden of the past or an inheritance’ (Crang, 1996: 430). AlSayyad has observed, as
discussed in Chapter 1, that through ‘a series of linked hereditary successions’, this inheritance becomes a
heritage urban landscape (AlSayyad, 2001: 2). Surely, absent from the statements of outstanding universal
value and inscription criteria for Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre were the associations between the various historic
periods of their urban landscapes. While Aleppo’s statement of outstanding universal value and inscription
criteria listed its successive historic periods and the monuments that were considered representative of each,
they nonetheless failed to tackle the associations between these periods nor how they had collectively shaped
Aleppo’s historic urban landscape. Similarly, by virtue of focusing on architectural styles, al-Salt’s statement
of outstanding universal value and inscription criteria discounted its urban layers, especially the relationship
between its initially rural, and eventually urban, forms. These discrepancies in the historic layers are more
prominent in Acre’s statement of outstanding universal value and inscription criteria that disregarded the
strong associations between the Crusader and Ottoman palimpsests. In fact, the conceptualization of historic
urban landscapes as palimpsests facilitates a stronger comprehension of their morphological evolution in a
manner that precludes prioritizing the traces of one period over another, and, by consequence, one that refrains
The global-local tensions in the assessment and identi�cation of the outstanding universal value are
typical of world heritage sites. As discussed earlier in this chapter, mostly, the statement of signi�cance
and the interpretation of the inscription criteria conveyed the state’s of�cial rhetoric, representing a national
perspective of the signi�cance for each of Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre and did not necessarily re�ect the outlook
of their inhabitants. The forthcoming discussion on place experience (Chapter 6) will reveal the interesting
contrasts between these two perspectives and will also incorporate the perspectives of the international tourists
in Aleppo and Acre. Essentially, neither the perspectives of Aleppo’s nor al-Salt’s inhabitants regarding the
values of their cities have been documented and thus neither have been incorporated in the initial nomination
nor in the eventual inscription in Aleppo’s case. Further, although the documentation in Acre eventually
included its inhabitants’ perspectives, the capturing – as opposed to the identifying (Stephenson, 2008;
Herlin, 2004) – nature of the inscription criteria precluded incorporating these perspectives in Acre’s
nomination and subsequent inscription on the World Heritage List. The subsequent chapters in this book
will discuss the representation of the local inhabitants in the place-making initiatives and their experience of
the historic urban landscape, but I emphasize here that the values that the local inhabitants attributed to their
historic landscapes in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre had not been incorporated in the nomination, inscription or
planning processes. This exclusion yielded a super�cial and a fragmented understanding of the signi�cance
of these historic urban landscapes (Dakin, 2003: 190). For example, the Jewish community in Aleppo is
considered one of the oldest in the world, yet remained completely inconspicuous and obscure in the historic
urban landscape (Cobb, 2010). This cultural heritage and the fact that in Aleppo the Jewish community had
occupied an entire intramural residential quarter were indeed not addressed in the inscription criteria or in
the statement of outstanding universal value and certainly not in the subsequent place-making initiatives. Not
differently from the Jewish community in Aleppo, the nomination criteria and the statement of signi�cance
for al-Salt overlooked its
in reference to the Levantine families in general, and the Nabulsi families
in particular whose arrival had borne a profound enriching impact on al-Salt’s architectural and urban design
vocabulary. In a similar vein, Acre’s values – whether in the world heritage inscription documents or in the
planning documents – prioritized the Crusader narrative over all else and also overlooked the fact that what
has been dubbed as Ottoman is in fact part of Acre’s Palestinian Arab heritage, for it was Palestinian Arab
rulers like
Zāhir al-‘Omar al-Zeidāni
, not Turkic Ottomans, who brought Acre to �ourish (Philipp, 2001).
Furthermore, the criteria and the statement of signi�cance also disregarded that Arab Acre was the �rst city
to defy Napoleon Bonaparte after his siege of it failed due to its wall forti�cations – that is,
– that
Zāhir al-‘Omar al-Zeidāni
had built, and which were strengthened later by
Ahmad al-Jazzār
(Philipp, 2001).
Additionally, the narratives of the world heritage inscription and the development plans completely
disregarded the
cultural heritage, of which two are intramural in Acre, namely:
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
palace of
where
and his family had lived (Plate 9), and the prison cell in the Citadel of
Lastly, and building on the previous point, by disregarding the contemporary life, the statement of
outstanding universal value and the inscription criteria for Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre presented static snapshots
that inherently precluded the notion of continuity in these historic urban landscapes. Nowhere in Aleppo’s
or Acre’s nomination and inscription documents was there a mention of their contemporary life while al-
Salt’s statement of outstanding universal value highlighted only the contemporary challenges. In Acre’s case,
particularly, ICOMOS’s evaluation of the nomination package and the website of the World Heritage Centre
mentioned the need for a socio-economic agenda for the contemporary inhabitants of Acre – which they
considered crucial for the continuity of the historic urban landscape as ‘a living city’ (UNESCO, 1992–2014d).
Although this attention to the life within Acre’s historic landscape seemed positive in principle, a careful
reading of the evaluation report by ICOMOS revealed substantive inaccuracies particularly when this report
The most serious problem confronting those responsible for the conservation and maintenance of the old city
is a social one. There is an almost total absence of pride of place. Few of the present-day inhabitants have any
family ties with the city and so there is a lack of identi�cation with it. Furthermore, many of the inhabitants are
unemployed or poorly remunerated and so cannot afford to live elsewhere. If and when their personal fortunes
change, they will immediately seek housing outside the walled city. As a result, they do not feel themselves
under obligation to respect the appearance of what is to them no more than a transitory place of residence
This statement uncritically echoed the rhetoric of the of�cials in the government of Israel who for decades
have attempted to transfer Acre’s Palestinian Arab inhabitants to
(see Chapter 2). The resistance of
Acre’s inhabitants to these transfer attempts contest both the claim that Acre’s inhabitants lack a sense of place
attachment and the contention that they are transitory inhabitants. The forthcoming discussions on place-
making and place experience (Chapters 4–6) will reveal – through primary data – the presence of a strong
sense of place attachment among Acre’s Palestinian Arab inhabitants. In fact, the �ndings reveal that the
dilapidation of Acre’s historic landscape is attributed not to negligence on the part of its current inhabitants,
but rather to several decades of purposeful neglect on behalf of the of�cial institutions speci�cally, the
Municipality of Acre, Old Acre Development Company and
. The upcoming analysis will illustrate
how these agencies’ collective policies have deprived Acre from basic infrastructure until as recently as the
mid-1990s and – compounded by the complexity of the property ownership situation that was discussed in
Chapter 2 – prohibited Acre’s inhabitants from maintaining their residences. Notwithstanding this critique of
the inscription criteria and ICOMOS’ report, credit should be given to the 2002 World Heritage Report that
documented the decision to inscribe Acre, and which recognized the need for a more ‘accurate’ representation
A number of delegates commented that the texts contained in the ICOMOS evaluation report needed revision
to accurately re�ect the history of the site. ICOMOS agreed to Report of the World Heritage Committee discuss
appropriate amendments with the delegations concerned to re�ect the history of the social and economic
situation of the site and the inhabitants of the Old City. The Committee recommended that the State Party
incorporate into its management plan a coherent policy for the improvement of the economic and social
condition of local residents of the Old City of Acre and to ensure that it remains a living city (World Heritage
The Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, UNESCO declared, ‘shall be the basis for the future protection
and management of the property’ (UNESCO, 2008: Article 37.155). Therefore, the nomination package should
include ‘an adequate protection and management system’ that ensures the protection of the authenticity of every
nominated property (UNESCO, 2013: Article 78). The bundle of place-making procedures for protecting and
managing historic urban landscapes may include legislation, regulations, institutional measures, management
plans and implementation tools as well as monitoring systems that collectively would ensure a cyclical
process of evaluation and assessment (UNESCO, 2008: Articles 129 and 132). Accordingly, the discussion in
this chapter highlights the place-making initiatives in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre. The discussion �rstly situates
the various choices of place-making strategies within the heritage debates in general and the world heritage
debates in particular. The argument stipulates that these intervention procedures evolved from strategies that
 This charter is also known as the Australia ICOMOS Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Signi�cance.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
and it distinguished among �ve such procedures, whereby conservation
remained a ‘general term’ that referred
to all ‘the processes of looking after a place’ in order to ‘retain its culturally signi�cant qualities’ (Australia
ICOMOS, 1979: Articles 1 and 2). The least invasive among these �ve procedures is maintenance, which
 In North America, preservation refers to intervention in historic buildings and sites while conservation refers to
nature conservation. This book adopts the international terminology and uses historic conservation to refer to the �ve
Towns and Urban Areas.
Trianta�llou, 2005). Matching has been criticized as historicist because it eliminates the distinctive artistic
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
This recent de�nition has underscored the socio-economic processes that contribute to the spatial, temporal
and experiential formations of the historic urban landscape. Indeed, while historic conservation may
 See for example Herzfeld’s work in Rethemnos in Crete (Herzfeld, 1991), Mitchell’s work in Upper Egypt
(Mitchell, 1995, 2001) and Orbaşli’s studies of Granada in Spain and the Medina in Malta among others (Orbaşli, 2000).
 See Chapter 1: The Contradictions of Tourism and the Historic Urban Landscape.
Immediately following its inscription on the World Heritage List in 1986, the Syrian government issued a
regulation that was speci�c to Aleppo and which came to be known as Decision 39/1990. This three-page
 Also, see the discussion in Chapter 2 under The Evolution of Aleppo’s Urban Form.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
rehabilitation from a perspective of rehabilitation and preservation and conservation [but] tourism came in
neighbourhood in particular became susceptible to the pressures of
tourism development because its primarily Christian inhabitants were deemed less socially conservative. A
What helped in its quick openness is the fact that the majority of its residents are, you know, [Christian] […] Many
opened up quickly and that the local inhabitants did not give the matter any importance
to
become the second Action Area (AA-2) and postponed the intervention in
by making it AA-3. Although
had boasted well over a dozen hotels and restaurants considered
among the best in Aleppo. This rapid tourism development came in spite of the planners’ attempts to curb it
through their control over land use and zoning. Their stance stemmed from their objective to preserve Aleppo’s
residential function and from their assumption that tourism development contradicted with the best interests of
the local inhabitants. During the workshop that was held on 6 June 2005, the then Mayor of Aleppo, Dr
Ma’an
, declared his intent to curb tourism development through his control over the licensing of new tourism
 See for example Ford et al., 1999 and Elkadi and Pendelbury, 2001 on the descriptive component of GIS and its
not take it anymore: the dilapidation, the walls, the humidity in winter is very dif�cult and [the house] needs
maintenance. We are sad to leave the area, but there is nothing we can do
This emphasis on the conservation of the physical fabric in its authentic state shifted the project’s focus from
urban rehabilitation that allows change and adaptation to architectural conservation that prohibits change
courtyard houses of Aleppo
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
 In 2005, at the time of this interview, 40,000 Syrian pounds was equivalent to US $760. According to this exchange
Plate 11
The dilapidated houses in Aleppo
Source:
The author.
The courtyard houses in Aleppo became storage facilities for small industries
Source:
The author.
Signs advertising the traditional courtyard houses for sale can be seen around Aleppo
This plate, along with some other plates and some quotes that appear in subsequent chapters have been
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
planners distinguished between residential gentri�cation, which entails social mobility and the replacement of
the local inhabitants with new, more af�uent ones and tourism gentri�cation, which involves the penetration
 A
is a local neighbourhood leader.
 The website for this hotel is: www.mansouriya.com
in Aleppo
Source:
The author.
Bāb Qinnasrīn
a Swiss person came, and spent millions on a huge project. It is not huge [in size], but a very
Figure 4.1
The project itself contributed little in terms of urban design interventions that were almost limited to one local
Sāḥet al-Ḥaṭab
whereby the originally small plaza was signi�cantly enlarged, beauti�ed
and furnished (Plate 16). As discussed in Chapter 2, the traditional cities of
in general, and in
Aleppo in particular, lacked this type of large public open space. One of the planners conveyed the struggles
of attempting to understand the typologies of open space in Aleppo notwithstanding the usefulness of the GIS
… one of the problems that surfaced, the issue of open space in the Old City is one of the issues [sic]. You
saw the urban fabric of the Old City which is a bit constrained, so where is the open space actually? It is the
Furthermore, Decision 39/1990 was deployed to regulate urban design standards, especially throughout
whereby all the shop owners were obliged to comply to new building codes that standardized the façades of
their shops, including the doors, signage and awnings (Plates 17 and 18). Most of the shop owners criticized
these regulations; one complained that ‘also the doors that they made us install have �aps that do not suit the
Plate 15
A worker unloads material into a small industry workshop in an historic house in Aleppo
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
in Aleppo
Source:
The author.
Aleppo: Conserving the Life Within
The emphasis on the technical infrastructure came at the expense of other areas of the social infrastructure.
The Development Plan identi�ed a severe lack of social services in Aleppo, especially health and educational
 A
quarter in Aleppo yield a homogenized
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Al-Salt: Is Place a Tourism Product?
The three Tourism Development Projects in al-Salt that were spearheaded by JICA’s project claimed to pay
Church in Aleppo
Source:
The author.
not have a [unique] selling point that you can sell abroad […]. Based on this we do not focus much on al-Salt’
(interview with a senior planner at the Jordan Tourism Board on 26 June 2005).
house remained closed until the family recently donated it to the Municipality of al-Salt, which uses
it as of�ces primarily for its architectural staff.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
 A wealthy Christian family whose roots originate in Nazareth in Palestine.
mansion in the centre of
al-Salt with the plaza or
in the forefront
Source:
The author.
on 7 May 2005). Another planner unrealistically claimed that the museum will ‘grant a voice to local Salti
history (the social history of everyday life)’ (Daher, 2005: 304) – a claim that I address in Chapter 5.
Secondly, in order to ensure the future sustainability of the project’s initiatives, a human resource
development component was included so as to build local capacity. According to the initial proposals, several
workshops were planned both in Japan and in Jordan that would offer training on ‘urban facility planning;
was inspected before the new pavement was laid. Surely, the local inhabitants expressed their concern, and
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
in al-Salt had been excluded from the rehabilitation
Source:
The author.
Figure 4.2
The proposed tourist trails along the
Source:
The author.
A newly introduced plaza and water fountain along one of the
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
point, and how many buildings can be introduced to tourists along the way’
(interview on 14 May 2005;
also see Khirfan, 2013: 313) (Figure 4.2). This meant that numerous other
were excluded from the
To exacerbate matters, the rehabilitation measures in al-Salt had disregarded the basic norms of historic
conservation as spelled out in internationally endorsed charters and resolutions. For example, the restoration
 This quote, along with some other quotes that appear in subsequent chapters have been published in the
International Journal of Islamic Architecture
, 2, 307–25. The article was titled: ‘Ornamented Facades and Panoramic
Views: The Impact of Tourism Development on al-Salt’s Historic Urban Landscape’.
The mix of new materials in al-Salt included black basalt and white limestone
Source:
The author.
The irreversible rehabilitation measures also introduced new building materials that were not part of the
original vernacular repertoire of al-Salt like the use of the white limestone and the black basalt stone instead
of the traditional and distinctive mustard-yellow stone (Plate 24) – a practice that the local inhabitants
in al-Salt were built to the same level as some of the
houses, creating drainage problems for the local inhabitants
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Source:
The author.
Source:
The author.
The contemporary civic structures (the Directorate of Education and the Police
Headquarters) are disproportionate to the townscape of al-Salt
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Acre: a Shift in Planning Strategies?
Old Acre Development Company, functioning under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism in Israel, declared
early on that its primary goal was to ‘develop the Old City and make it an international tourist city’ (Old Acre
Development Company, 2013). With tourism as its primary goal, it sought since its founding in 1967 to implement
similar policies to those adopted by Old Jaffa Development Company.
The latter’s plan for Old Jaffa ‘stipulated
that the only people entitled to live in the area are artists’ (Old Jaffa Development Company, 2014). Thus it
transformed Jaffa into a ‘museum city’ through transferring its predominantly Palestinian Arab and poor population
and by replacing its residential functions with tourist attractions and services like galleries, museums, hotels,
souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants. One of Acre’s planners mocked Old Jaf晡’s development by dubbing it ‘a
plastic fantastic’ (interview on 10 January 2006). Old Acre Development Company also prioritized archaeological
excavations in order to unearth more of the Crusader city underneath the Ottoman one (Kesten, 1993: 6,8 and 9).
 The Old Jaffa Development Company was founded in 1960.
Vandalism and littering along the
Source:
The author.
Basically, the way they viewed tourism in 1993 was to improve the waterfront and the marina (interview on 10
The �ndings of the documentation process in Acre, which depended on a triad of socio-economic, architectural
… we started to see that dozens of the houses were falling down and people were moving out. They were obliged
to evacuate because they did not have the �nancial ability to restore and there was no authority to support [the
restoration]. And even in the past ten or �fteen years, the [authorities] stopped the assistance: all the housing
loans that used to help the Arabs to buy or restore the houses. The [authorities] stopped even those (interview on
A dilapidated residence in Acre
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Only when the dilapidated residences were on the verge of collapse did Old Acre Development Company
intervene through the Elimination of Danger Act that tackled only crucial structural repairs and required
the tenants to pay 50 per cent of their costs. A planner from Old Acre Development Company explained:
If the [inhabitants] want to have interior work they pay for it. And also lawfully, if there is a danger to the
infrastructure of the house and you have to repair it, we ask the house owner and he has to pay on that section
�fty-�fty, the charge is not being charged [as] ‘ok if you cannot afford it [then] we won’t do it’. We cannot
afford such a measure because if the house will collapse on their heads, you have done nothing. We do the
repairs and the [inhabitants’] �fty per cent is being paid through future payments […]. And of course our
who pay us [sic]. It is not our private property, it is government property so we
Once the documentation revealed that solving the complicated property-ownership situation was pivotal for
and
Old Acre Development Company collaborated on devising new ownership policies according to which the
local inhabitants were provided with long-term loans toward the rehabilitation of their property that they
would then transfer the property to these individuals upon the
Because Acre was abandoned by its original dwellers, all the houses, all the properties went to the
government. Now the government has leased the houses to dwellers […] they pay only sixty per cent,
and forty per cent is [paid by] the government. Now, we are in the midst of a process to sell the houses to
the dwellers. From the forty per cent they have to pay only �fty per cent to be the owners of the houses
The implementation of this new ownership policy began with a pilot project in Block 10, which is an
administrative unit located at the north-eastern corner of Acre along
 Before making this statement, this planner requested that the recording device be turned off but allowed note-taking.
Acre: the Conservation of the Townscape
The historic conservation policies in Acre were in�uenced by the documentation methods and their �ndings
and corresponded to the four levels of architectural signi�cance that
had identi�ed (see Chapter 3).
Accordingly, Level A represented the most signi�cant structures whose authentic state the new policies
sought to conserve. Level B included all the archaeological buildings and ruins predating AD 1700, which
’s auspices, hence the antiquities laws regulated their conservation. Level C referred to
the mostly residential and commercial buildings whose exterior façades were considered signi�cant, thus
the new building regulations preserved their structural integrity and exterior façades (Plate 31). Level D
encompassed all the remaining buildings in Acre, whose signi�cance was considered minimal, nevertheless
the new building regulations acknowledged their compositional signi�cance to Acre’s townscape
(Plate 32). Therefore, while the regulations allowed more leeway in modifying Level D properties, they
simultaneously established design guidelines that would maintain their compositional contribution to the
townscape of Old Acre.
The analysis of the visual documentation also led to typological classi�cations akin to Alexander’s patterns
(Alexander et al., 1977). For example these classi�cations included – among many others – all the types
A level C house in Acre where the façade is signi�cant
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
A level D housing complex in Acre where the composition is signi�cant
Source:
The author.
Illegal additions to the residences in Acre
Source:
Legal additions to the residences in Acre following the new design guidelines
Source:
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
The moat or
in Acre had been adapted into a sports �eld for the
Source:
The author.
In addition, the data on the movement patterns and the spatial distribution of the tourists informed the
derivation of new visitor management and land use policies. The latter con�ned tourism activities around the
attractions and diverted them from the residential quarters so as to protect these quarters’ privacy and to shield
them from tourism gentri�cation. Simultaneously, the visitor management strategies included two drop-off
 Several locally owned restaurants were located inside Acre’s walls or
The Templar tunnel in Acre
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
a multitude of small-scale forms instead of a few large-scale structures. Accordingly, the plans recommended
the conservation and the adaptive reuse of three historic structures as medium-sized hotels, two of which were
and the other was the lighthouse or
that would have collectively provided 160 hotel rooms.
One of the planners shared the challenges pertaining to adapting such historic buildings, especially in world
We recommended three hotels [ … ]
Khān al-‘Umdān
Khān al-Shūna
Figure 4.3
The visitor management and land use policies in Acre
Source:
 This initiative was funded by the Jewish Agency for Israel and took place the Western Galilee Consortium.
A fresh �sh shop in Acre’s
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
from only restoration that prioritized the visual experience of cultural heritage to a gradient of �ve procedures
that supposedly now account for the values and the signi�cance of this cultural heritage. These evolutions
prompted a paradigm shift that morphed the authorized heritage discourse into one that equally accounts for
the physical and visual; the morphological and spatial; and the socio-cultural and economic aspects of the
historic urban landscape, while concurrently endorsing change as an inherent morphological quality of such
a landscape. Practically, however, the place-making strategies in the historic urban landscapes of Aleppo, al-
, or
’s home in Acre
Source:
The author.
was certainly not justi�ed through sound documentation but instead assumed that international – speci�cally
Western – tourists preferred this visual order. The discussion in Chapter 6 on place experience will refute these
assumptions based on empirical data, but suf�ce it to mention here that these assumptions represented an
extension of colonial era perceptions of these Middle Eastern historic cities as unorganized (Mitchell, 1991).
Conversely, Acre’s place-making strategies combined both architectural conservation and urban rehabilitation
but, most importantly, these strategies ensued directly from the documentation and the value assessments.
Instead of freezing Acre’s historic landscape at one point in history, these strategies accounted for change and
evolution by providing choices for contemporary intervention that were grounded in the levels of signi�cance,
Furthermore, the development of tourism in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre presented tensions vis-à-vis urban
rehabilitation and the needs of the local inhabitants. Such tensions manifested in the three-way relationship
 This three-way relationship was �rst identi�ed by the English Tourist Board which changed in 1999 to the English
Tourism Council. The latter changed in 2009 to VisitEngland.
Public Participation in World Heritage Planning:
Paul Davidoff’s 1965 landmark article ‘Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning’ (Davidoff, 1965) ignited the debate
in urban planning on inclusiveness, public engagement and participation (Checkoway, 1994). The discussion in
this chapter traces the evolution of inclusive and participatory planning through a longitudinal content analysis of
the documents and doctrinal texts on world heritage and then, more generally, on heritage planning. The analysis
juxtaposes the development of inclusive and participatory heritage planning in these documents against their
development and applications in the �eld of urban planning. The analyses reveal that UNESCO’s documents,
ICOMOS’ charters and other doctrinal texts on world heritage have signi�cantly lagged behind urban planning
theories and practices when it comes to introducing and operationalizing inclusive and participatory measures.
These analyses are then linked to the speci�cs of Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre.
Public Engagement and Participation in the Planning Literature
When Paul Davidoff introduced his theory of advocacy planning (Davidoff, 1965), he did not explicitly
call for the active participation of the local communities that are affected by the planning decisions, but
he urged the professional planner to become an advocate who represents the interests of constituencies.
Davidoff also emphasized the need to provide choices and transparency: ‘great care must be taken [so] that
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Public Participation in World Heritage Planning
new article that actually recommended withholding information about the nomination of any property from
In all cases so as to maintain the objectivity of the evaluation process and to avoid possible embarrassment
to those concerned, States Parties should refrain from giving undue publicity to the fact that a property has
been nominated for inscription pending the �nal decision of the Committee on the nomination in question
(UNESCO, 1988: Article B.14).
These articles remained in the 1992 revision (UNESCO, 1992: Article B.14). A small yet signi�cant
breakthrough for local engagement in the world heritage documents occurred in 1994 when, in addition to the
need for ‘informed awareness’ (UNESCO, 1994: Article C.34), the revised operational guidelines also called
for the ‘participation’ of ‘local people’ during the primary phase of the nomination to the World Heritage
List by stating that the ‘Participation of local people in the nomination process is essential to make them
feel a shared responsibility with the State Party in the maintenance of the site’ (UNESCO, 1994: Article
B.14). Another article further emphasized participation by stating that ‘The nominations should be prepared
in collaboration with and the full approval of local communities’ (UNESCO, 1994: Article C.41). Thus, by
including the term ‘participation’ and by replacing the phrase ‘concerned populations’ with the more inclusive
Henceforth, the concepts of participation and engagement appeared more saliently in the operational
guidelines. For example, the 1995 revision stated that the ‘Participation of local people in the nomination
process is essential’ (UNESCO, 1995: Article A.2.1). It seems, however, that rather than incorporating the
local perspective in the decision-making process, the rationale guiding this change was driven by the desire to
allow the local inhabitants to ‘feel a shared responsibility with the State Party in the maintenance of the site’
(UNESCO, 1995: Article A.2.1). This is further con�rmed by the recurring caveat that participation ‘should
not prejudice future decision-making by the Committee’ (Ibid., UNESCO, 1994: Article B14).
The 2005 revision of the operational guidelines marked a major turning point when, for the �rst time,
they introduced the need for participatory planning throughout the management process: ‘Partners in the
protection and conservation of World Heritage can be those individuals and other stakeholders, especially local
communities, governmental, nongovernmental and private organizations and owners who have an interest
and involvement in the conservation and management of a World Heritage property’ (UNESCO, 2005a:
Article I.I.40). Indeed, these 2005 operational guidelines took signi�cant steps forward by referring to the
participation of the local communities in several articles. Subsequent revisions of the operational guidelines
in 2008, 2011 and 2013 preserved these inclusive and participatory concepts.
Public Participation in ICOMOS Charters and Doctrinal Texts
The �rst mention of participation in any of ICOMOS’ charters appeared for the �rst time only in the 1987
Washington Charter which emphasized the participation of the inhabitants of historic towns as key for the
success of conservation programs (ICOMOS, 1987: Articles 3 and 15). This charter, which coincided with
the 1987 operational guidelines that called for merely ‘informing’ the local inhabitants about the conservation
and protection decisions for World Heritage Sites (UNESCO, 1987: Article C-31), had proposed the need for
‘a general information program’ – one that ensures the involvement of the general public – including school
children – in all the aspects of heritage planning (ICOMOS, 1987: Articles 3 and 15). Following that, the Charter
for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage Sites was adopted in 1990 and explicitly
recognized that the ‘Active participation by the general public must form part of policies for the protection of
the archaeological heritage’ (ICOMOS, 1990: Article 2). This charter also stressed that the ‘Local commitment
and participation should be actively sought and encouraged [by heritage planners]’ (ICOMOS, 1990: Article 6),
and considered this engagement vital, especially during the later stages of heritage planning (Ibid.). This charter
also asserted that local participation becomes ‘especially important when dealing with the heritage of indigenous
peoples or local cultural groups’, and went further to actually empower these groups by stating that ‘In some
cases it may be appropriate to entrust responsibility for the protection and management of sites and monuments
to indigenous peoples’ (ICOMOS, 1990: Article 6). In 19999, nearly a decade later, ICOMOS International
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Cultural Tourism Charter (ICOMOS, 1999a) endorsed collaborative planning through ‘the involvement and co-
operation of local and/or indigenous community representatives’ in the planning process. Such representation
would serve the need to ‘achieve a sustainable tourism industry’, and to ‘enhance the protection of heritage
resources for future generations’ (Ibid.). This charter further recommended involving the ‘host communities
and indigenous people’ in the management of heritage tourism, especially in the cases of ‘con�icting interests,
responsibilities, and obligations’ (ICOMOS, 1999a).
Although the subsequent charters addressed the technical aspects of cultural heritage (such as structures,
timbers and wall paintings) some, including the 1999 ICOMOS Charter on the Built Vernacular Heritage,
 TICCIH is The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage.
 The Declaration of San Antonio is also known as the InterAmerican Symposium on Authenticity in the Conservation
Public Participation in World Heritage Planning
Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration stipulated ‘The right [of the
community] to participate in decisions affecting heritage and the cultural values it embodies’ (ICOMOS, 1998).
But it was not until a decade later that the 2008 Québec Declaration on the Preservation of the Spirit of Place
 The Appleton Charter is also known as: the Appleton Charter for the Protection and Enhancement of the
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
ICOMOS charters matched the degree of commitment to local engagement as in ICOMOS Canada’s charters.
In comparison, the tone of the widely acclaimed 1999 Burra Charter
seemed modest as it limited local
participation in the assessment of cultural signi�cance to ‘Groups and individuals with associations with a
place as well as those involved in its management’ who ‘should be provided with opportunities to contribute
to and participate in understanding the cultural signi�cance of the place’ (Australia ICOMOS, 1999:
Article 26.3). Beyond this initial stage, the Burra Charter gingerly admitted that ‘Where appropriate they
should also have opportunities to participate in its conservation and management’ (Australia ICOMOS, 1999:
Article 26.3). Researchers like Barry Rowney (2004: 110) criticized the Burra Charter for failing to examine
socio-cultural or economic links to the local communities in great depth. Similarly, and although the 1987
First Brazilian Seminar about the Preservation and Revitalization of Historic Centers directly tackled
inhabited historic centres, it nonetheless failed to even mention the subject of local engagement. Rather, the
conservation experts were entrusted with paying ‘special attention’ to ‘the permanence of residents and of
traditional activities in urban historical sites’ so long as such permanence and activities remained ‘compatible
with those sites’ (ICOMOS Brazilian Committee, 1987: Article V).
As for the doctrinal texts, only two that were issued by the Council of Europe in 1975 mentioned the
local communities. The 1975 Declaration of Amsterdam stipulated that ‘Integrated conservation involves the
responsibility of local authorities and calls for citizens’ participation’ (The Council of Europe, 1975a). But the
subsequent paragraphs revealed that such participation was limited to ‘informing’ the local communities who
would be ‘given the facts necessary to understand the situation’ in order to raise their awareness of the planning
decisions (The Council of Europe, 1975a). The 1975 European Charter of Architectural Heritage is notable for
how it attempted to transcend informing by engaging the local communities in the decision-making processes
when it prescribed that ‘The public should be properly informed because citizens are entitled to participate in
decisions affecting their environment’ (The Council of Europe, 1975b: Article 9).
The Participation Debate: From World Heritage to Urban Planning
Up until 1994, the Convention and the various revisions of the operational guidelines had actively sought to
counter the inclusive and participatory notions through their emphasis on secrecy and exclusionary measures
in order to avoid undue publicity about the nomination of any particular site for inscription on the World
Heritage List. It was not until the 2005 revision that the operational guidelines fully embraced inclusive and
participatory planning – nearly four decades after such concepts had been introduced in the urban planning
debates. Similarly, with the exception of the 1982 Tlaxcala Declaration, which advocated the empowerment
of the local communities, it took ICOMOS Charters more than 20 years to address inclusive and participatory
planning. Interestingly, this delayed introduction of inclusive and participatory heritage planning in UNESCO’s
and ICOMOS’ documents on world heritage contrasted with how these notions were introduced much earlier
in the other doctrinal texts on heritage planning such as those of the Council of Europe (1975) and ICOMOS
It is noteworthy to highlight that the debates on inclusiveness and participation in the urban planning literature
have focused on three aspects, namely, the representation of local communities, the level of participation and
the timing of public engagement. While timing was addressed in 1997 – relatively later in the urban planning
literature – it seems that it was a key consideration in both UNESCO and the various ICOMOS documents on
world heritage. The few mentions of local engagement in the operational guidelines during the 1990s speci�ed
that such involvement should occur during the early nomination phase of the cultural heritage for inscription
on the World Heritage List. The 2005 revision of the operational guidelines represented a turning point since,
for the �rst time, they recommended the participation of all the stakeholders in all the heritage planning and
implementation phases. While signi�cant, these more recent shifts in the world heritage debates on participation
Public Participation in World Heritage Planning
choices of these sites’ local communities and results in misconception of the appropriate levels of participation.
These arguments parallel other empirical studies. Luisa de Marco’s (2009) study of the Burra Charter and the
the project, the planners experimented with different forms of participation for these different groups before
The planners relayed throughout their interviews that they sought to inform the primary groups about
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
So they no more entered this department as a centre for the Municipality, but entered it as an institution that
offers them services. In addition to services, they also submitted complaints and that’s how the process of
interaction took place. And the truth is that this was very productive and effective and helped in that they began
After the initial phase of experimentation, the planners decided that only two types of local engagement
functioned ef�ciently: household surveys and subject-speci�c meetings. By using the term ‘surveys’, however,
the planners were actually referring to architectural surveys of the physical attributes combined with basic
census data that were inputted in the GIS database: ‘The surveys were very general. We had a printed survey
that we, the project’s team, �lled out, and which gave a general idea about the general nature of the area, that
is the most prominent problems in the area, the most important keys, but in very general terms’ (interview with
a planner on 1 June 2005). The subject-speci�c meetings were held during the implementation phase only in
response to speci�c complaints that the local inhabitants had. A planner explained how:
Public Participation in World Heritage Planning
socio-cultural and economic needs (personal interview on 9 June 2005). In fact, this project had provided only
one kindergarten and the aforementioned health centre for the entire population of the Old City of Aleppo,
 As a secular party, the ruling Ba‘ath Party had institutionalized gender-mixed elementary schools throughout Syria.
The notes made by the planners and the tourism entrepreneurs during a workshop
Source:
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Moreover, and while poverty constitutes a major problem in Aleppo, the project’s documents lacked any
measures for local economic development. A planner shared that:
a bit. Of course you won’t be able to involve all of them, I think this is a key thing that you actually come to
residents and tell them ‘we are not strangers, we never came to abuse the place. We came to work with you
guys’. And I put forward a suggestion that we bring men and women to work with you. Women would be more
dif�cult, but men, they would buy your vegetables and prepare it at their homes. Simple things that you invest
their time and at the same time they receive �nancial returns and they feel that they are part of the job, part of
From the outset, the project’s planners foresaw that their interactions with the tertiary groups – that is, the
administrative bodies involved in Aleppo – would witness the most intensive forms of participation, hence
de�ned it as a ‘sharing participation approach’ (Windelberg et al., 2001: 15). The planning documents
re�ected an optimism that this level would experience the ‘sole and most effective kind of participation’
(Windelberg et al., 2001: 79) – indirectly admitting in the process that the project fell in the trap of the Syrian
planning system that precluded bottom-up approaches. The planning documents, however, admitted that the
engagement at this level became limited to ‘selective participatory groups who are motivated to enter into a
dialogue with the project’ (Windelberg et al., 2001: 98). Observations and discussions with several planners
also revealed that the key institutions that harboured perspectives different from those of the project’s
objectives were excluded from the planning process such as the Directorate of Tourism – the local arm of the
Ministry of Tourism.
In general, the data revealed that three major obstacles had hindered the ability of the project’s planners to
fully seek and achieve local participation. Firstly, the Syrian governance system with its highly strati�ed and
hierarchical structure deemed ‘parity participation in public discourse simply not possible’ (Busquets, 2005: 64).
Secondly, the project’s planners had to deal with the legacy of previous planning practices in Aleppo that were
marred by neglect over decades and which cultivated mistrust among the local inhabitants toward government
institutions in general and urban planners in particular. This history also triggered the suspicion and scepticism
of the local inhabitants toward the project, which manifested in various ways, such as in refusing to participate
in the surveys, but sometimes even more actively. One of the planners relayed that once the digging for the
infrastructure rehabilitation commenced, ‘the reactions of the local inhabitants were too extreme’, admitting
that it was due to the fact that ‘they wake up in the morning and �nd a huge dig outside their houses and they
didn’t know when it will close’. Consequently, this planner shared how ‘vandalism
started; throwing garbage
inside the digs started; and harassment of construction workers started’ (interview on 1 June 2005). And,
thirdly, it was the unbalanced emphasis of the project on the technical aspects of infrastructure at the expense
Public Participation in World Heritage Planning
of local socio-economic and cultural needs that limited the possibilities of genuine local engagement in the
Therefore, local engagement in Aleppo mutated into one of four types – none of which extended beyond
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110
Because the sub-project situated in town center may cause socio-economic impacts to disturb or stop economic
activities of the tenants/shop owners and disturb the daily life of residents as well as customer in/along/adjacent
to the sub-project sites. It is essential to provide adequate notice and information on the development, and to
obtain their acceptance in order to achieve a smooth implementation of the sub-project. It is also important to
take it in consideration to co-ordinate with their daily activities and conveniences during the construction [sic]
(Ibid.: Article 9.1).
Al-Salt’s inhabitants, however, offered a contrasting perspective. The majority of the study participants
among al-Salt’s inhabitants (74 per cent) did not believe that they could include their needs in the project.
These study participants criticized the exclusion of their needs and emphasized that the project sought to
cater only for the needs of the tourists. They also criticized their exclusion from employment during the
project’s implementation.
Further, al-Salt’s inhabitants observed the gradual marginalization of the role their city’s municipality and
by consequence their mayor, and their con�dence in the project diminished in tandem with the extensive delays
in the project’s implementation. In 1998, at a later stage during the implementation phase, JICA eventually
hired two sociology professors from the University of Jordan to conduct a survey with al-Salt’s inhabitants.
That survey solicited the opinions of al-Salt’s inhabitants about JICA’s project, tourism development in
general, their perceived bene�ts from tourism development and their needs in particular. The �ndings of that
survey revealed al-Salt’s inhabitants’ strong opposition to tourism development – starkly deviating from the
planners’ expectations. Probably those negative views explain why, of the 12 planners who were interviewed
for the purposes of this research, only two had mentioned that sociological study, although all were speci�cally
A planner de�antly shared:
What ended up happening is that these two professors recruited students to talk to the local inhabitants and ask
them ‘do you want tourism or not’ the questions were very naïve and very stupid and the result of the survey
Indeed, al-Salt’s inhabitants opposed tourism development in their city. Their conservative nature dictated their
reactions to local tourism development initiatives, such as with the
house (see Chapter 4). But they
also expressed concerns about their city’s capacity to accommodate the potential increase in tourists’ numbers.
The extensive delays in the commencement of the project’s implementation led to the circulation of
Frankly they [local inhabitants] were not convinced that the project will actually take place. Because if you
want to trace back the history of the project it is ten years old, and the local inhabitants have been hearing for
the past ten years about a Japanese project, a museum and the like. Up until a year ago if you talked to them
their stance was ‘talk as much as you want, because nothing will ever take place’ (interview on 15 May 2005).
Moreover, the absence of communication exacerbated the rift between the planners and the local inhabitants.
The latter consistently asserted that rumours constituted their only source of information about the project.
Abū Jāber
mansion, a resident replied: ‘I didn’t hear that
they want to tell about the history of al-Salt. But now the rumours are that there will be a hotel there’. Others
complained about the hiring of foreign construction workers – mostly Egyptians – during the construction
By 2004, JICA’s approach to its international initiatives had witnessed a shift toward the integration of the
local communities in the planning initiatives. This shift impacted new and ongoing projects around the world,
hence JICA published a ‘Community Based Tourism Development’
 This report responded to three of the then most recent JICA projects that focused on tourism development in areas
of civil war, including Lebanon, the Kyrgyz Republic and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Public Participation in World Heritage Planning
either denying or ignoring the 1998 sociological surveys – admitted that ‘we are planning to do a survey in
al-Salt as the Japanese are requiring this’ (interview on 10 May 2005). This same planner however explained
We are trying to do [the survey] as a two way. That is to have some questionnaire for people to know about
traf�c circulation inside al-Salt, and to ask people about the Japanese project. We are intending to do it. It is
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112
information about the host’s lack of
karam wa ḍiyāfe
, hence imposing on the hosts an overly conspicuous
karam wa ḍiyāfe
(Shryock, 2004a: 36). Thus, despite their objections to the project, the honour
code of al-Salt’s inhabitants prescribes that they welcome the Japanese planners as guests, invite them to share
their food and to – naturally – refuse their offers of payment. In fact, these
karam wa ḍiyāfe
traits explain the
restrained reactions of al-Salt’s inhabitants against the project in the presence of the Japanese planners to the
extent of apathy. In discussing why al-Salt’s inhabitants did not express their discontent, a Jordanian planner
explained that ‘they are shy and ashamed from the Japanese’ (interview on 15 May 2005).
The urban design measures of the First Tourism Development Project, which were funded by JICA,
standardized the appearance of the public spaces and
. The Third Tourism Development Project,
which was funded by the World Bank introduced new regulations that standardized the façades and the
signage of all the shops in the downtown core (Plates 26 and 27). Collectively, such regulations homogenized
and legitimized al-Salt’s historic landscape because their standardization measures eliminated the local self-
representations that had shaped the distinctiveness of this landscape. For example, the white limestone used
or stairways and the public paths clashed visually and technically with the traditional
mustard-yellow stone, despite the planners’ admission that this yellow stone was ‘the most distinctive element
in al-Salt. Moreover, instead of water management solutions that would have reinstated the water spring
Sāḥet al-‘Ain
(the Spring Plaza) to its original status as a major feature of al-Salt’s historic landscape,
the plaza became a wide stretch of glaring white stone pavement (Plates 20 and 22). Simultaneously, the
Furthermore, the exhibitions of the Old Salt Historic Museum in
Abū Jāber
’s mansion sought to highlight
al-Salt’s history between 1847 and 1918, which the planners dubbed ‘the Golden Age of Salt’ (interviews
on 7 and 10 May 2005). The museum’s exhibits however, failed to represent a-Salt’s socio-economic and
political history, because devoid from these exhibitions were the stories of al-Salt’s economic prosperity,
its local tribes and the various clans that had arrived from Nablus and Damascus and which had contributed
to this prosperity. Irene Maf� (Maf�, 2002: 210) lamented ‘Salt history, has, instead, been transformed into
a folkloric tableau, where the local political and historical distinctiveness disappear behind the integrative
uniformity of of�cial discourse. This folkloric approach is certainly a powerful tool for creating a sense of
unity and erasing local differences’. Thus, legitimization in the place-making of al-Salt occurred through the
of�cial discourse’s promotion of a single collective identity – a collective universalism – as opposed to the
distinctive particularisms of the various identities that co-existed in al-Salt. These selected representations that
constituted only one variant of the reality and were approved by the nation-state, were produced for national
and international – rather than for local – consumption. In producing these representations, the distinctively
local self-representations were in fact obliterated. The interviews with al-Salt’s inhabitants con�rmed these
�ndings. When asked whether they thought the project represented to foreign tourists the histories of the
various sub-communities of al-Salt, the responses were divided where 43 per cent of the study participants
thought that the project had failed in this regard. Al-Salt’s inhabitants emphasized the need for interpretive
tools, such as tour guides, to compensate the tourists for the project’s disregard for their local history. They
also speculated about the contents of the museum at the
Abū Jāber
mansion, which was under rehabilitation at
the time. Such speculations certainly re�ected their exclusion from the planning process and their reliance on
rumours as a source of information about the museum’s exhibits. Likewise, al-Salt’s inhabitants were almost
equally divided in their opinions of whether the project balanced beauti�cation and a genuine representation
of their contemporary life. One of the local inhabitants con�rmed that: ‘There is a difference in our daily
life, and the scene became a bit more beautiful’, but then immediately questioned: ‘Beautiful
shambles exist in front of them, what’s the difference? Conservation must include everything so that the
neighbourhood will become tidy. It is all ruins and garbage. What did we bene�t?’
Acre: Establishing Rapport
The representation and the level of engagement of Acre’s inhabitants in the tourism development plan
varied throughout the various phases of the planning and implementation processes. The �rst year, which
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113
was dedicated to the documentation of the historic urban landscape, witnessed the most intensive levels
of engagement during which the local representation occurred through one or a combination of: survey
questionnaires, a community committee and public meetings. The interdisciplinary team that Rachamimoff
and Mendel formed had included a social worker, who was an Arab who grew up in Acre, which advantaged
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114
True to this claim, three of Acre’s inhabitants who had served on this committee waved aside any election
in their appointment process. According to one of them: ‘The institution that plans for the city, Old Acre
Development Company, invited us to be on the community committee’.
Notwithstanding the attempts to integrate them into the planning process, Acre’s Palestinian Arab
inhabitants harboured mistrust toward the authorities, as one planner asserted: ‘They do not trust. They do
not trust the government’ (interview on 26 December 2005). Several of the planners attributed this mistrust
to the nearly 40 years of neglect that Acre’s historic landscape and its inhabitants had endured. Further, the
memories of previous attempts to transfer them to
remained with Acre’s inhabitants, and they always
compared their situation to that of Old Jaffa’s Palestinian Arab population (see Chapter 4). The recollections of
Old Jaffa’s development had been particularly profound for Acre’s inhabitants given that Saadia Mendel, one
of the two leading architects involved in Acre’s new development plan, was the same architect responsible for
Old Jaffa’s development (Torstrick, 2000: 176). Therefore, not surprisingly, Acre’s inhabitants were wary of
the proposals of Old Acre Development Company and
. Actually, throughout the interviews, instead
Sharekat Tatwīr ‘Akkā
’, Acre’s inhabitants sarcastically referred to Old Acre Development Company
Sharekat Tatyīr ‘Akkā
’ which translates into: ‘Old Acre Demolishment Company’. From their part, and
after over 40 years of neglect, combined with several transfer attempts, Acre’s Palestinian Arab inhabitants
were circumspect of the sudden interest in improving their housing conditions and viewed the Pilot Project in
So when we started the project there was great suspicion. We were not very supported. I think we reversed the
policy. We said we want to work with you. And I think it is not only right from the humanistic point of view
[…] But [Acre’s inhabitants] remembered that a few years ago the policy was different. So there was suspicion
from the beginning, and we kept arriving at suspicion, and quite bitter. And I am not absolutely sure that the
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115
I’ll give you an example: I mentioned before the three kindergartens, and we used the Ministry of Tourism’s
money to build kindergartens. The government was not happy. They said that money from the Ministry of
Tourism should go to tourism not to kindergartens, and of course I am sure you realize that a kindergarten in
the Old City is much more expensive than a hotel. But we thought that if there is no better way than expressing
an attitude than to build a kindergarten for the kids. If you build a kindergarten then you would want them to
stay, to be part of this place. So I think this is a major issue (interview on 26 December 2005).
This perspective, which certainly was not unique to one planner, re�ected the personal commitment on behalf
of the planning team to respond to the needs of the local inhabitants due to their genuine appreciation of Acre’s
human and cultural values equally as its historic and architectural values: ‘A Preservation and Development
Process of a historic city is perpetually incomplete by de�nition. It is only through professional care and
personal involvement of many organizations and individuals that the cultural, human, and historic value of the
city can be cherished’ (Rahamimoff, 1997: 14). When probed about whether the development plan balanced
their needs and the needs of the tourists, the reaction among the local inhabitants offered a relatively more
optimistic view than other questions about their engagement in the process whereby over a third (38 per cent)
thought that the project succeeded in striking this balance. Moreover, many of Acre’s inhabitants admitted that
Additionally, the combination of the Pilot Project and the conservation manuals offered a genuine
opportunity for Old Acre Development Company and Acre’s inhabitants to tread new collaborative territory.
Notwithstanding the criticism of the Pilot Project, it offered the policy-makers and the planners an opportunity
to re�ect on what had worked, what had not worked and why and to draw lessons accordingly. In particular, the
planners realized that the lack of communication with Acre’s inhabitants had negatively impacted the image of
the development plan for, apart from the efforts by the Rachamimoff and Mendel’s team in the early 1990s and
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116
were named after Marco Polo and Benjamin of Tudela. The Arab names of Old City quarters do not appear on
municipal maps … The Crusader heritage of the city is remembered so as to emphasize connections to the Christian
West rather than the Muslim East. Thus, the Crusader remains are also used to obliterate the city’s Arab heritage.
Generally, the planners and policy-makers excluded Acre’s Palestinian Arab inhabitants from tourism
activities in their city as evident in denying them access to heritage sites that were, until very recently, part
of their public and civic domains. In reference to Acre’s walls or
ours. And the museums. Why aren’t we allowed to enter them? They lie if they tell you we are allowed in’.
Some of the planners agreed that
Ḥammām al-Bāsha
– the bathhouse – should have continued to function
and to serve the local inhabitants. One of the planners shared that ‘Acre is a living city, and the �rst thing
they make are worrying me because of the interaction [sic]. For example they took the Turkish bath and
instead of making it function and keep the atmosphere of the Old City, they made out a Luna Park which is
in Acre
Source:
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117
The world heritage notion inherently implies the primacy of the global over the local, hence triggering
tensions between these two perspectives (see Chapter 3). Bianchi and Boniface (2002) exposed the strong
links between world heritage status and global tourism. The latter engenders the contradictory global-local
nexus of global demand for distinctively local products – products that are commodi�ed and homogenized
to cater for this global demand (see Chapter 1) (Nuryanti, 1996). Dolores Hayden (1999) had also argued
that the exclusion of the local self-representations suppresses the local identities from the historic urban
landscape and thus detracts from this landscape’s distinctively local qualities. Building on Hayden’s
approach, I argue that public engagement in the place-making processes in historic urban landscape
alleviates the global-local tension by balancing the global and the local values and needs. Unfortunately,
however, the participatory and inclusive notions in UNESCO’s and ICOMOS’ documents that pertain to
world heritage in particular had lagged behind the urban planning debates. Such debates, which emerged
in the second half of the 1960s, appeared in the operational guidelines only in 1994, and did not take hold
Three components for local engagement take prominence in urban planning, namely: the representation
of the constituencies; the level of engagement; and the timing of engagement. The representation of the
constituencies considers the mechanisms by which the voices of the local inhabitants of Aleppo, al-Salt and
Acre were considered in the planning process. This entailed three tiers of indirect representation in Aleppo
through the primary, secondary and tertiary groups. Conversely, in both al-Salt and Acre representation
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118
Furthermore, Hayden (1999) identi�ed several factors that contribute to the emergence of local self-
representations in the historic urban landscape including the consideration of the perspectives of the various
local sub-communities in: the research and de�nition of a collective past; mapping urban space; urban
conservation and rehabilitation; and in the interpretation of the historic urban landscape. The absence of such
considerations suppresses the self-representation of the local identities from the historic urban landscape
hence negatively impacts this landscape’s local distinctiveness – the very quality that attracts international
tourists in the �rst place (see Chapter 1). Therefore, the discussion in this chapter paid particular attention to
the representation of the needs and interests of the local inhabitants in Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre by assessing
these inhabitants’ perceptions of: a) the inclusion of their needs in the plans; b) the balance between their
needs and the needs of the tourists; c) the level of their interest in tourism; and lastly d) the level of authority
sharing in the planning process. The �ndings revealed that Acre’s place-making achieved almost all of these –
with the exception of authority sharing, a challenge that planners generally grapple with, but especially so in
the authorized discourse of cultural heritage conservation (see Smith, 2006: 11, 300). Conversely, the needs of
al-Salt’s inhabitants particularly assumed little to no prominence in the place-making processes whether their
needs for social infrastructure, their rejection of tourism development in their town or their need to be included
in the place-making processes. Similarly, the needs of Aleppo’s inhabitants were also disregarded albeit for
different reasons. Primarily in Aleppo, and rather than directly soliciting the local inhabitants’ opinions about
their needs, the planners– in a typical authorized heritage discourse approach – made their own assumptions,
based on their own expertise, regarding the needs of the local inhabitants. In the process, Aleppo’s planners
Lastly, local self-representations emerge in the historic urban landscape in various forms, including
vernacular architectural and urban design elements (Ellin, 1999) and contemporary popular cultural expressions
and their various forms of symbolism, such as graf�ti, signage and even lighting (Jacobs, 1961; Venturi
et al., 1977). The various standardization measures that led to the homogenization and the legitimization of the
historic urban landscapes especially in Aleppo and al-Salt have also restrained the local self-representations
and prevented them from emerging in the historic urban landscape.
The discussion in this chapter addressed the formation of such local self-representations, but the next
chapter – Chapter 6 – will discuss these representations’ impacts on the sensory experience of the place (see
Pearce and Fagence, 1996), whether through the hanging laundry, the graf�ti, the smells of the food and the
Representation of
Timing of engagement
Primary, secondary and
Aleppo’s inhabitants
PART III
Tourism inherently includes an experiential component; however in contrast to the typical forms of mass
tourism in which tourists are herded – en masse – to speci�c tourist attractions, other modes of tourism
have emerged. Drawing on the structural-functionalist theories, Cohen (1979: 183) distinguished between
�ve different modes of touristic experiences, namely, the Recreational, the Diversionary, the Experiential,
the Experimental and the Existential. The Recreational and Diversionary modes typify mass tourism where
tourists originate ‘from modern, industrial urban societies’ (Cohen, 1979: 186) and are similar in that,
through them, a tourist merely seeks pleasure (Ibid.: 184). The Experiential and the Experimental modes
similarly entail an experience of the lives and livelihoods of others (Cohen, 1979: 189), but while in the
Experiential mode a tourist is ‘content merely to observe the authentic life of others’ through gazing, in
the Experimental mode, a tourist ‘engages in that authentic life, but refuses fully to commit himself to
it’ (Ibid.: 189; also see Urry, 1990 on the tourist gaze). Lastly, the Existential mode encompasses tourists
who seek a ‘spiritual’ experience through which they, in the words of Cohen ‘desire to “go native”’
not differently from ‘Hindu recluses, Israeli kibbuz members, Paci�c Islanders’ (Cohen, 1979: 190).
The Experiential and Experimental modes, in which tourists seek an individualized and distinctive
cultural experience of the historic urban landscape, are the focus of this book. These modes are akin
to ‘Community-based tourism’ that ‘adopt[s] an ecosystem approach, where visitors interact with local
living (hosts, services) and non-living (landscape, sunshine) to experience a tourism product’ (Jamal and
Getz, 1995: 188), albeit set in an historic urban landscape. For the most part, in the Experiential and
Experimental modes, tourists also originate from the West and endeavour for an ‘authentic’ experience of
the ‘other’ culture (MacCannell, 1999). Such individualized experiences mark the shift from mass tourism
back to earlier forms of travel. As opposed to tourists, travellers pursue ‘self-transformation’ and ‘close
contact and interaction with the landscapes and the cultures they visit’ (Galani-Mouta�, 2000: 216). Indeed,
technological advancements, especially in telecommunications and, more recently, in social media, have
accelerated this shift by facilitating the availability and the accessibility of information on destinations
In historic urban landscapes, the Experiential and Experimental modes drive tourists to pursue places
ascribed under the ‘myth of the unchanged’ because of the rich repertoire of their heritage, and their perception
as ‘timeless’ and ‘static utopias’ stuck in past times (Echtner and Prasad, 2003: 669 and 674). Tourists,
hence, seek to experience and experiment with these distinctive lifestyles and how these lifestyles manifest
through spatial organizations. For example, such tourists may experience the links between the distinctive
local architecture, urban form (spatial organizations) and the natural setting of the urban settlement. Or they
may experience the links between the social organizations that represent the different human relationships
and their associated urban distribution, such as tribal and clan-based urban quarters. Importantly for these
‘authentic’ experiences, that the destinations possess a distinctive identity (see for example: Ashworth and
Tunbridge, 1990; Chang et al., 1996; Nuryanti, 1996; Sternberg, 1997). Surely, ‘image marketing’ is deployed
to portray the distinctiveness of the historic urban landscape through the Unique Selling Preposition and, in
response to the tourists’ experiential and experimental needs, to promote this landscape ‘also as a vibrant and
attractive living urban environment’ (Graham, 2002: 1009).
Unfortunately, as Orbaşli (2000) had pointed out, the rich repertoire of mostly anthropological research
that discusses the motivations for the Experiential and Experimental modes of tourism has not been matched
by empirical research that identi�es and assesses the components of their experiences of the historic urban
landscape. Most importantly, there is a dearth in research that juxtaposes the tourists’ vis-à-vis the local
communities’ experiences of the historic urban landscape, and how they may impact each other. Similarly,
there is a dearth of research that investigates the impacts of the historic urban landscape – that is, the physical
and spatial context – on the lives and livelihoods of its inhabitants whether through wealth, prosperity,
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lifestyle or empowerment among others (English Heritage, 2000). Indeed, the complexity of the historic urban
landscape and its characteristics as a tourism product – for example complimentarity, duality, inseparability
and heterogeneity – hinder any efforts to isolate and measure its components:
The environment of the city is complex and dependent on many circumstances that are constantly changing
and acting simultaneously. Ultimately, life in a city is too complicated to be objectively de�ned or engineered:
it has to be experienced holistically. When people live in a city and experience its quality of life day and night,
across seasons, years, and decades, the populace makes the urban environment a �t place in which to exist.
When a city is inhabited, its inhabitants have a stake in the character of the urban continuum (Tung, 2001: 339).
In order to identify the elements of a distinctive place experience and to facilitate their assessment by
transforming them into measurable variables, the discussion in this chapter draws upon the theoretical and
empirical work in humanistic geography, architecture and urban design and environmental psychology. To
begin with, humanistic geographers have generally considered place as the meaning of lived experience – that
is, a sense of identity – and a sense of belonging and attachment (Relph, 1976; Tuan, 1990). They thus put less
emphasis on the physical elements of place and more on the relation between people and their environment.
According to Tuan (1977), a realistic place experience combines both emotions and thought, which he
represented as a continuum at the centre of which lies perception �anked by sensation and conception. In
subsequent work, Tuan coined the term ‘topophilia’ to refer to ‘the affective bond between people and place’
(Tuan, 1990: 4, 93).
Grounded in existential phenomenology, which underscores the human cognitive experience, the
architectural theorist Christian Norberg-Schulz (1980) established strong ties between the ‘distinctive sense of
place’ and ‘genius loci’ which is also known as the spirit of place. Genius loci then stems from a combination
of physical and symbolic values that result from ‘space plus character’ (Norberg-Schulz, 1980: 23). Aldo Rossi
(1984: 130) furthered this idea, especially for historic urban landscapes, when he equated the city’s distinctive
spirit – its’ ‘soul’ – with its history and the collective memory of this history (Rossi, 1984: 130). Kevin Lynch
(1960) linked the physical attributes of place to both the cognition – that is, the orientation within the place –
and the image – that is, the identi�cation of the self and the place (Lynch, 1960). This distinctiveness ‘implies
that local features of the built and natural environment characterize a physical identity’, and includes the
place’s continuity from the past (Kim and Kaplan, 2004: 315–16).
The theories of environmental psychology further balance the physical and the non-physical attributes
of place. In particular, Canter (1977: 158) proposed a theory that located place at the intersection of three
circles that represented the physical attributes of the place, the activities of people within the place and
the conception of the place. By equally emphasizing these three elements, Canter’s theory offered a more
neutral and less subjective approach toward understanding place (Groat, 1995). Punter (1991) sought to
operationalize this theory in an attempt to facilitate an objective assessment of the experience of place. He
positioned ‘the sense of place’ at the centre and proposed variables for each of the three elements, such
as the townscape, the built form and its permeability for the physical setting; the land use, the pedestrian
and vehicle �ow and the behavioural patterns for the activities; and the legibility, the cultural associations
and the perceived functions and attractions for the meanings and conceptions. Montgomery (1998) further
re�ned Punter’s variables. Subsequent theoretical and empirical studies supported the argument that a
sense of place stems from a combination of the physical elements and the experiences of the users of the
urban landscape (Jivén and Larkham, 2003). Others took this argument further and claimed that people
hold the ability to transform their living environment and, in the process, are able to transform place-
making from a people-place relationship to a people-people relationship within the place (Schneekloth and
Shibley, 1995). In the same vein, others have argued that it is the activities and the events involved in the
process of place-making that actually create a place with a distinctive sense of identity (Buchanan, 1988).
Indeed, Christopher Alexander (1979) had long advocated for place as a process. Alexander spoke of ‘the
quality without a name’ that stands behind place distinctiveness. This quality resembles human qualities
that encompass characteristics such as existing as a whole, possessing passion, being free and alive and
even, experiencing death whereby this resemblance ‘is not just an analogy, or similarity the fact is that each
one creates the other’ (Alexander, 1979: 53). Accordingly, series of patterns for the various typologies of
the physical attributes of place serve to link the quality without a name to human experience (Alexander
et al., 1977). While Alexander and his colleagues highlighted the physical attributes, they nonetheless
the process of interacting rules [that] can work to generate a town
’ (Alexander, 1979: 499,
Stemming from this emphasis on process whether in the emergence of a town or in its experience, I
propose a reinterpretation of Canter’s theory of place according to Kevin Lynch’s de�nition of the experience
… the clarity with which it [place] can be perceived and identi�ed [i.e. the legibility], and the ease with which
its elements can be linked with other events and places in a coherent mental representation of time and space
[i.e. the symbolic signi�cance] and that representation can be connected with nonspatial concepts and values
[i.e. the compatibility and transparency]. This is the join between the form of the environment and the human
processes of perception and cognition (Lynch, 1981: 131, underline and square brackets mine).
Therefore, and by building on the premise that the non-physical constructs of place and their interactions with
the physical ones are important aspects of place making and experience (Are� and Trianta�llou, 2005: 79),
I propose to combine Canter’s theory of place and Kevin Lynch’s sense of place (Figure 6.1), which yield
spatial, cultural and social processes in line with Alexander’s views. The distinctive experience of place is
situated at the core of these processes, and refers to ‘the extent to which a person can recognize or recall
a place as being distinct from other places – as having a vivid, or unique, or at least a particular, character
of its own’ (Lynch, 1981:131). The social processes in particular incorporate the perspective of humanistic
geographers on emotion and thought in the perception of place as a lived experience – that is, a sense of
identity, belonging and attachment. This is important in light of the fact that the social dimension of historic
urban landscapes is often overlooked in historic conservation and in tourism planning (Nasser, 2003). Further,
the emerging framework transforms place into the interface between the tourists and the local inhabitants,
thus by identifying variables for each process, this framework facilitates a comparative assessment of the
experience of the historic city as a tourist destination and as a living place. Therefore, by capturing such
complex interactions, this framework accounts for Alexander’s emphasis on the ‘wholeness’ characteristic
of the quality without a name (Alexander, 1979). This framework also responds to calls for capitalizing
on the conceptual and methodological potential of Kevin Lynch’s work for tourism research (Pearce and
Fagence, 1996). Further, this proposed framework tackles the concern that the empiricist-positivist paradigm
of historic conservation (Tainter and Lucas, 1983) had overlooked the interpretive paradigm that encompasses
the social, cultural and experiential meanings of the historic urban landscape (Wells, 2010: 467). Furthermore,
this framework’s emphasis on the distinctive sense of place responds to a crucial need in urban conservation
and rehabilitation practices. Indeed, stemming from this particular need, ICOMOS held a meeting in Montreal,
Québec, in 2008, the outcome of which came to be known as the ‘Québec Declaration on the Preservation of
Recognizing that the spirit of place is made up of tangible (sites, buildings, landscapes, routes, objects) as
well as intangible elements (memories, narratives, written documents, festivals, commemorations, rituals,
traditional knowledge, values, textures, colors, odors, etc.), which all signi�cantly contribute to making place
and to giving it spirit, we declare that intangible cultural heritage gives a richer and more complete meaning
to heritage as a whole and it must be taken into account in all legislation concerning cultural heritage, and in
all conservation and restoration projects for monuments, sites, landscapes, routes and collections of objects
(ICOMOS, 2008c: Article 1).
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Figure 6.1 explains the proposed theoretical framework: starting from the
cultural processes
that result from
the intersection of the physical attributes of the historic urban landscape and their meaning and conception,
and, hence, include symbolic signi�cance, legibility and aesthetics.
Symbolic signi�cance
refers to the holistic
comprehension of all the complex processes and their relation to the physical elements of the historic urban
landscape (Lynch, 1981), and parallels the contemporary shifts toward the Experiential and Experimental
forms of tourism. Thus, a decreased understanding of the relationship between the physical elements of the
historic urban landscape and the historic events that had occurred within it actually indicates indistinctiveness.
Further, a decreased understanding of the relationship between the historic urban landscape and events in
other places re�ects a lack of understanding of the relation between time and the historic urban landscape.
For example, do the local inhabitants perceive the symbolic signi�cance of a religious complex similarly or
differently from the international tourists? And why?
re�ects an understanding of the distinctive elements of the historic urban landscape and refers to
the ability to mentally represent the physical attributes of this landscape – that is, the monuments, nodes, paths,
districts and edges. Accordingly, legibility re�ects the ability of individuals – both tourists and inhabitants – to
mentally represent, communicate and interpret the physical attributes of the place (Lynch, 1981). Finally,
 He identi�ed a �ve-tiered hierarchy that starts with the basic physiological needs and includes safety, belonging,
esteem and the need for self-actualization (Maslow, 1954).
Figure 6.1
The proposed framework and its three processes for a distinctive
place experience: cultural, social and spatial and their measurable elements
Source:
The author.
According to Kavaratzis (2004), the primary – yet unintentional – level to communicate this image occurs
through the city’s physical attributes, hence the importance of urban design interventions in forming the image
of the city. Intentional marketing, Kavaratzis argued, is only the secondary level for communicating the image
of the historic city (Kavaratzis, 2004: 67–9). Congruence is challenged when the balance tips in the favour
of conserving monumental buildings at the expense of ordinary ones. Likewise, congruence is also tested
when individuals form the perception that tourism activities exist at the expense of social infrastructure and
 As was discussed in Chapter 4, the number of international tourists in al-Salt remains to this day minimal (also see
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Place Experience in Aleppo
Cultural Processes: the Synonymous Perceptions of the Inhabitants and the Tourists
Almost everyone among Aleppo’s inhabitants oriented their movement in relation to the Citadel. Therefore,
it was not surprising when the majority of Aleppo’s inhabitants who partook in this study (88 per cent) chose
the Citadel as the most signi�cant urban element. Several of the study participants indicated the Citadel’s
scale and visual dominance, and referred to it as a symbol of Aleppo: ‘Giant. [It] parallels the Pyramids of
Cairo’. While very few were able to elaborate on the history of Aleppo’s Citadel, those who did were certainly
articulate. One of them explained that it is ‘One of the largest citadels in the world, and has lots of historic
stories [like] the presence of our Lord Abraham on a hill there milking his cow. It was occupied throughout
Second to the Citadel, Aleppo’s inhabitants were divided between the old
and the Umayyad Mosque.
Many of those who selected the
actually linked it to the Citadel and to the various
, especially
Khān
, while others highlighted its division into specializations, commenting that the
was: ‘like an
exhibition of traditional industries’. Similarly, those who selected the Umayyad Mosque made reference to the
tomb of the prophet
. A few of Aleppo’s inhabitants listed the 10 gates of Aleppo and its walls (16
per cent), elaborated on their location in relation to the historic neighbourhoods and demanded their excavation
When asked about the most distinctive intangible elements in Aleppo, the majority of Aleppo’s inhabitants
(61 per cent) chose their own culture, expounding: ‘Aleppo is neat in its food and drink and people. There
is no discrimination in it’. Others selected the vibrant aura of the
, commenting that ‘Its’ distinctiveness
stems from the specializations. Copper in one
Tilal
for shoes,
only for scales, leather in one
The international tourists in Aleppo harboured similar opinions to its inhabitants whereby most of those
who participated in this study (47 per cent) considered the
the most distinctive urban element in Aleppo.
Aleppo’s Citadel came second to the
. These tourists also mentioned the entire historic urban landscape,
the city’s mosques and its traditional food. Regardless of their choices, the tourists’ comments emphasized
the importance of the local culture to their experience of distinctiveness: ‘It is the real Syria. The life here
gives you the feeling of the country as it is naturally, in positive and negative way [sic]’. Similarly, when
asked about the most distinctive intangible elements in Aleppo, the majority of the international tourists who
partook in this study (68 per cent) selected Aleppo’s aura, especially in the
commenting that it offered:
‘City life. Observing the day-to-day activities of the locals’. Other comments underscored the ‘otherness’ of
Aleppo’s
Very alive’.
Surely, the similarities between the perspectives of the local inhabitants and the international tourists
regarding the most signi�cant elements in Aleppo were in tandem with the objectives of the Project for the
Rehabilitation of the Old City of Aleppo and with the personal opinions of the planners. By underscoring
the conservation of the historic fabric and the preservation of its residential function, the project sought
to demonstrate sensitivity to the local culture vis-à-vis tourism development. According to one of the
It is of vital importance to �nd the right balance between ‘marketing the city for tourism’, and the privacy of
inhabitants and the authenticity of life there. ‘Tourists feel comfortable where inhabitants feel at home’ is the
central guideline for a long term policy of tourism development in Old Aleppo. This vision is borrowed from
the German city of Heidelberg (Nakhal and Spiekermann, 2004: 22).
Six of the nine planners selected Aleppo’s Citadel as the most distinctive element while all nine of them
I could draw you a face: the
of the [
area, because this face is for me the authenticity.
The citadel. It is the citadel. That is not all. The traf�c. The people. It is the people.
because I
pass through here on my way to work and I like it. Voila!
. It is the face that is more important,
more important than this. The people are truly [signi�cant]. When you walk at seven o’clock in the evening –
walk through the
street, you can see them sitting there, kids running around
(interview on 2
Interestingly, some of the personal perceptions of the planners matched the orientalist perceptions of the
[imagine] to really live for one night in such a house. It is a bit imaginary but is a beautiful one. This is
something I dream of, to enter an Arab house that is not a hotel, to spend a night there at a guest house. It is not
built as a hotel but built as a dream Arab courtyard house (interview on 7 June 2005).
Interestingly, though, while Aleppo’s inhabitants were able to list individual urban elements, their legibility
of Aleppo was weak since they were unable to link these elements spatially, to represent them mentally or to
communicate them structurally and coherently. Of the 36 inhabitants who were interviewed in Aleppo only
one was able to describe and, also, sketch the relationship between the Citadel (monument), the quarters and
(districts), the main roads (paths), the city’s walls (edges) and the 10 gates (nodes) (Plate 42).
Conversely, all the planners who were interviewed expressed a genuine understanding of Aleppo’s historic
urban landscape and the spatial and historic relationship among its various elements – with the exception of
So apart from the heart of the city, which is the Citadel, no matter how you move you will see archaeological
remains, and each area has its different charm, although you will see that the western area has more weight
from an archaeology point of view. However, and generally no matter how you walked, you will see mosques,
religious schools, some hotels that recently entered the Old City and some restaurants and cafés. Apart from
all that, there is the old
which just as you enter it, you will see how it is divided according to themes. This
means that you will �nd a gold
, a women’s
… etc. And you will see that as you enter each
, it
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transforms you from one atmosphere into another, even the noise that people make in their daily lives, that in
As the last measure of the cultural processes, place distinctiveness was evaluated through distinguishing
Aleppo’s aesthetically appealing elements. Over a third of the interviewees among the local inhabitants
selected Aleppo’s Citadel (35 per cent) because of its domination, beauty and symbolism. Others chose
Aleppo’s entire historic landscape and the
(19 per cent and 16 per cent consecutively). Further, nearly a
quarter of the interviewees among Aleppo’s inhabitants (22 per cent) chose intangibles as the most beautiful
about Aleppo (see Table 6.1) – most dominantly, the religious co-existence:
Its atmosphere is good, and it is liveable [for] the rich, middle, and
or poor. And religion; each one
[following] his own religion and this is a blessing from God. The Great Pope Bishop [sic], he entered
Yahiā
’s
[John the Baptist] grave and visited him. That was beautiful. And our sheikhs go to churches. There is love,
cordiality and understanding. Each one [follows] his own religion, and God judges. My trade master was
The international tourists who partook in this study were again almost equally divided between the Citadel
in their choice of the most beautiful element in Aleppo (42 per cent and 38 per cent of the
interviewees consecutively). Others mentioned Aleppo’s historic landscape and its skyline, and like Aleppo’s
inhabitants, the international tourists commented on the hospitality, kindness, friendliness, peacefulness and
co-existence among Aleppo’s inhabitants. A tourist shared:
Table 6.1
Some of the comments by the local inhabitants of Aleppo on the most beautiful
elements of their city
The food in Aleppo.
Old Aleppo is beautiful with its motion.
All of it, on top of itself. I love it. It smells differently.
Its people are hospitable and helpful to strangers. They love foreigners. Its
and Christianity is rooted among the people. This is a strong characteristic.
It is more organized than other cities, the organization of the
or poor. And religion; each one [following] his own religion and this is a
blessing from God. The Great Pope Bishop [sic], he entered
Yahiā
’s grave
and visited him. That was beautiful. And our sheikhs go to churches. There
and God judges. My trade master was Armenian. God bless him and give him
The city is its markets. The
and the khans because they are archaeological
and very historic and are all old �oors and stairs. The old
Source:
The author.
It is history and culture and it reminds me of the Arabian past, not only Syrian, but a larger context. A link
between our own histories. Lots of things we have in Europe came from here through caravans – a big part of
Spatial Processes: the Challenge of Maintaining the Residential Functions
In terms of compatibility, the majority of Aleppo’s inhabitants who participated in this study (83 per cent)
considered their city’s historic landscape suitable for tourism activities, while a smaller majority among them
(56 per cent) found it unsuitable for their own activities. These opinions somewhat corresponded to those of
the international tourists who partook in this study the majority of whom (77 per cent) considered Aleppo
suitable for tourism, but a smaller majority (51 per cent) chose to remain neutral regarding its suitability for
its inhabitants – explaining that they were unable to judge, citing their lack of knowledge about the living
conditions of Aleppo’s inhabitants. From their part, the planners agreed that Aleppo’s historic landscape posed
signi�cant compatibility challenges with the daily lives and livelihoods of its inhabitants. From the planners’
perspective, Aleppo’s problems pertained to adapting the courtyard houses to contemporary life; the multiple
ownership of the one property; an increase in the non-residential functions; auto accessibility and congestion;
infrastructure; and, admittedly, the stringent conservation regulations. The planners particularly found the
courtyard houses challenging: ‘These courtyard houses are built for certain social contexts. They are made for
multigenerational families, for big families. And in addition they do not �t the modern ways of living. They
have kitchens and bathrooms separated from the sleeping rooms. And the access by cars and so on’ (interview
on 2 June 2005). While the combination of observations and interactions with Aleppo’s inhabitants con�rmed
some of these challenges, the planners’ perceptions of the courtyard houses were in�uenced by their own
socio-economic backgrounds. Admittedly, some of the female interviewees indeed complained of the
dif�culty of the daily chores required to maintain the courtyard houses and expressed their desire to move to
contemporary apartments in New Aleppo. Speaking of her house, one female respondent said, ‘Sometimes
I get mad at it’, but she immediately continued that ‘it is open and airy, and good. Beautiful in the summer,
and [offers] privacy’. For the most part, the inhabitants of these courtyard houses were satis�ed with them
but also criticized the building regulations that prevented them from continuing their centuries-old traditions
of dividing the property among the heirs and of expanding and adding to the structures so as to cater for the
expansion of the families. They also complained about their inability, due to these regulations, to modify and
upgrade their houses to meet their contemporary needs. In particular, these regulations set high standards
for rehabilitation that are beyond their �nancial capacity (see Chapter 4). In fact, the majority of Aleppo’s
inhabitants who partook in this study (77 per cent) thought that the level of care for the monuments was good
but, in comparison, only a minority (12 per cent of them) thought that the level of care of the ordinary buildings
was comparable to that of the monuments. The international tourists who participated in this study shared
Surely, one of the planners admitted that the stringent implementation of building regulations negatively
impacted the ability of the local inhabitants to adapt their traditional houses to their contemporary needs. This
planner �rstly explained the traditional way of life of the local inhabitants: ‘These [inhabitants] are poor. They
do not have much income. So if someone’s son gets married, they construct for him a room on the roof. This
is well known’, and then went on to explain that the new building regulations ordered them to ‘Stop. You are
not allowed’. This planner then suggested a different planning approach:
Either you make things easier, or he will leave the Old City. There is no middle ground solution, so you must
�nd him one [solution] that allows him to construct the room but under your supervision, where it would have
a bathroom with technical assistance from you, and you should even draw it for him, in order to allow him to
Undoubtedly, the multiple ownership of the one property posed complications for the conservation initiatives,
especially with regards to the applications for loans. Further, and because Aleppo’s af�uent inhabitants had
moved to the newer parts of the city in the mid-twentieth century, the authorities focused their planning
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
efforts there, neglecting, in the process, the Old City of Aleppo. This eventually led to an almost dysfunctional
infrastructure by the end of the twentieth century. Simultaneously, several workshops for small industries
started to move into the residential quarters of the Old City of Aleppo and to occupy the empty houses. The
concentration of these workshops, along with other public services, caused severe traf�c congestion and noise
In the �fties, outward migration increased from the Old City because people wanted something new and more
modern areas, and the rich left the city centre […] and the Old City was neglected as usual because they [the
planners] follow the new areas and improve them […] and as long as only poor inhabitants stay in the Old City, then
there is neglect. So the balance that maintained the city for hundreds of years was tipped off. While its
planning is
haphazard it is also rational, and its main streets are served because they are four to �ve metres wide which made it
enough to transform them into automobile streets. This means that there is hierarchy, so it can be comfortable, but
when it was abandoned, the erosion started, the electrical, water and other services that were installed in the early
twentieth century were all eroded and the streets as well. And the old houses that were abandoned were converted
into workshops, so workshops entered the residential neighbourhoods, and there were swamps and poor people
Moving on to the congruence of the historic urban landscape, the majority of Aleppo’s inhabitants who partook
in this study (62 per cent) believed that the image of their city’s historic landscape realistically represented
their lives to the international tourists. Further, a larger majority among Aleppo’s inhabitants (89 per cent)
believed that the project represented their history to the international tourists. These views paralleled the
international tourists’, a majority of whom (61 per cent) found that Aleppo’s historic landscape realistically
represented the contemporary lives of Aleppo’s inhabitants. The planners in turn agreed that the international
tourists were pleasantly surprised by the hospitality of the local inhabitants and by the vibrant life on Aleppo’s
I know that most Europeans are very much astonished and are pleasantly surprised about Syria in general and
very much Aleppo. I do not know any other case. I know only people who are positively surprised because they
expected something dark, something backward, something Islamic fundamentalist, and so on. That’s what they
show on TV. They are also surprised here to see that people are very nice, very kind [and] very helpful. It is one
of the safest countries you can �nd in the world, at least with small criminality. Very small criminality. They
see Christians and Muslims living together. They see women more modern than they can ever see in Europe so
they are surprised. For me it is a fun [sic], it is a pleasure to show that this image is reality, one of the realities
Other planners harboured different views and considered that the private form of the courtyard houses
precluded a genuine understanding of the societal processes that occurred within – that is, unless the
international tourists gained access to these houses. One planner actually distinguished between mass tourism
… for the tourist who comes with a group, the movement with a group may not allow him [access] because he
has a set program, and in this situation the abilities of the tour guide and his level of culture and education play
a big role, because when he shows them around he also explains to them. Of course not all of [tour guides] are
able to offer such interpretation. And there are the tourists who come individually, and they enter people’s
homes and eat with them and people invite them in, and so on. These are the ones who possibly would bene�t
 In reference to the Old City of Aleppo.
Social Processes: The Challenges of Tourism Gentri�cation and Cultural Clashes
In the wake of the project, Aleppo faced tourism gentri�cation due to its inhabitants’ lack of place attachment,
for many families began to sell their property to tourism entrepreneurs and to move outside the Old City.
Over half of the interviewees among Aleppo’s inhabitants (55 per cent) thought that the houses that were
rehabilitated through the project shifted hands. They also relayed how they were witnessing a systematic loss
of the residential function whether to tourism-related services in the Action Areas, or to warehouses and small
industry workshops beyond the project’s boundary. Aleppo’s inhabitants were also concerned about the rising
rents and property prices in the Action Areas, especially in
. Signs advertising the sale of traditional
Unfortunately, in some neighbourhoods especially, those that became active at the tourism level, a big change
occurred. The nature of the change was that several of the houses were transformed from residences to tourism-
related services like hotels, restaurants, guesthouses and the like. And all this also in addition to the fact that
some ownership is transferring to foreigners, people who are entirely from outside Aleppo. I don’t know what
will happen in the future since lately, a new rule allows foreigners to own property. Previously this was not
allowed so there existed some manipulation in the form of commissioning a lawyer or delegating a Syrian to
Furthermore, the apathy among Aleppo’s inhabitants was certainly noticeable – a sign of a lack of place
attachment. They rarely seized the initiative to upkeep their neighbourhoods where littered alleys were a
common sight, even the areas close to the main attractions such as the Citadel and the
. One of Aleppo’s
May God help us to maintain the cleanliness of Aleppo. Its inhabitants are neglectful. The inhabitants must take
notice of cleanliness. There are gnats and midges. They should spray to kill the insects.
used to be
so clean. Where should the garbage containers be put? In the past who would have dared to litter the streets?
We had never had gnats and midges. Lots of garbage [now], [although] the streets have been repaved and have
Not surprisingly then, Aleppo’s inhabitants lacked a sense of ownership over their cultural heritage,
notwithstanding their sense of pride in the Citadel’s prominence and the
’s vibrancy. This pride did not extend
to the ordinary and the mundane in the historic urban landscape. Generally, very few of Aleppo’s inhabitants
appreciated the aesthetic and historical values of the ordinary and the mundane in their historic urban landscape.
One commented: ‘the old
[neighbourhoods] are not beautiful’, but credited the project for increasing the
aesthetic appeal: ‘but
Bāb Qinnasrīn
around the mosque was rehabilitated, and they [the authorities] paved it
and tiled it, though it still needs some greening’. Instead, Aleppo’s inhabitants perceived their houses either as a
Lastly, it was important to shed light on the nature of the social interactions between Aleppo’s inhabitants
and its international tourists. The majority of the international tourists who partook in this study (72 per
cent) believed that these interactions constituted an important part of their experience of Aleppo. Likewise,
a majority of the interviewees among Aleppo’s inhabitants (59 per cent) thought that they bene�ted from
tourism whether economically or culturally. It was noticeable, however, that the female interviewees among
Aleppo’s inhabitants dominated the 41 per cent who thought they did not bene�t from tourism. One such
interviewee relayed how ‘Every time they [the international tourists] see me they laugh’, and she questioned:
‘I do not know. Do they laugh at my black clothes?’ Another interviewee articulated the concerns repeated by
What they photograph is telling. Sometimes they see things that are not good and they photograph them so that
they would go back to their countries and say ‘look at the Arabs’.
is one of the neighbourhoods in Aleppo.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Yes. We would like to go inside the mosque but we cannot because we do not like that anyone tells us how we
have to dress us [sic] and put a chador around us. And what we do not like also is that in the streets you nearly
Surely, male tourists are not required to wear a chador, thus, if anything, such a comment indicated the need
for educating both the international tourists about the local culture as well as the local inhabitants about
tourism. In fact, one of Aleppo’s inhabitants emphasized:
Tourists must be treated well and should form a good opinion of us. There is an improvement from before.
Slowly, slowly […] Start with the kids, prepare the [younger] generation to be respectful and that this is our
From their part, the planners highlighted the importance of raising awareness among the local inhabitants
toward tourism development in general and toward better interactions with the international tourists in
particular. Referring to Aleppo’s inhabitants, one planner said:
I think now they are a liability, but they should be assets. How? We have to educate them. For example, you
bring the cream of their crop, or their leaders and actually raise their awareness, and make them understand
what is it that you are exactly doing and that it is for their own bene�t […] You distribute small brochures
among them, that Old Aleppo is so and so, and they would give it to their children. In my opinion the new
generation is very important […] and sorry for stating this bluntly, but that you [as a tourist] provide them with
their income so they must respect you. A tourist is a support for me and for my business and creates jobs for
me and my country, therefore I must respect him, pamper him and take care of him (interview on 7 June 2005).
Place Experience in Al-Salt
Cultural Processes: The Divergent Views of the Local Inhabitants and the Planners
Al-Salt’s inhabitants were divided in their perceptions of the most signi�cant element in their city, between
al-Salt Secondary School and the superimposing composition of al-Salt’s historic landscape. Those who chose
Al-Salt Secondary School produced generations of distinguished alumni [including] ministers and important
men. Only if the inhabitants of al-Salt would return back to their history, and if they would revive it
Al-Salt’s inhabitants also mentioned
Street (Plate 2) among the most signi�cant urban elements
but very few of them associated it with the Nabulsi families who had built it in the late eighteenth and early
twentieth centuries. But most interestingly, only a fraction of al-Salt’s inhabitants who partook in this study (6
per cent) chose
Abū Jāber
’s mansion (Plate 20) as their �rst choice. This was at odds with this building’s pre-
eminence in the tourism development projects that singled it out for rehabilitation. But, the prominence of the
and the panoramic lookouts in the projects were in accordance with the local inhabitants’ selection of
al-Salt’s historic landscape. In fact, one of these trails led to al-Salt Secondary School. The personal opinions
of the planners varied considerably and they spoke candidly about the lack of distinctive elements in al-Salt’s
historic landscape. Actually, in justifying the decision behind the rehabilitation of the
Abū Jāber
mansion,
one senior planner admitted that ‘the reason to preserve this building [is] honestly there is nothing in al-
 The word āthār in Arabic has two meanings: either archaeological remains and/or remaining impacts.
Salt to attract tourists, although there are some attractions in al-Salt but they are not good enough for the
sustainability of tourism’ (interview on 7 May 2005).
Many of al-Salt’s inhabitants (39 per cent) considered their own culture the most distinctive intangible
element. Their comments highlighted aspects such as their strong tribal and clan af�liations, their continuity
of traditions and their
karam wa ḍiyāfe
. When asked, one of the local inhabitants exclaimed ‘The generosity of
al-Salt!’ and bragged: ‘At one point they [the authorities] wanted to build a hotel in al-Salt, but the inhabitants
refused because they keep their houses open for foreign visitors’. Others thought al-Salt’s natural setting and
its relationship to its hinterland, especially the orchards, signi�cant. Some even elaborated on the historic
links between these orchards and the caravan trade routes, revealing an understanding of al-Salt’s historically
The legibility of al-Salt’s inhabitants was weak as they were unable to mentally represent or to
communicate the physical elements of their historic city – that is, the relationship between the streets,
and buildings. But it was the lack of legibility among the planners who were involved directly
The entrance of the city is distinctive from other cities. You enter it through a mountainous area. We had a
foreign group once, and when they entered the city, they thought that
is all one big hotel. For me, the entrance to al-Salt is very distinctive. It gives the indication of something
mysterious inside the old city. This thing is the ensemble of buildings. Now, the individual buildings on their
own are not very beautiful, but the whole area and approaching it, and how to link the building to the adjacent
ones and to the urban space near it, and how to link all the elements together, that’s what I �nd important.
The urban spaces and the branches off of them, which are the stairs, then the buildings. The buildings are
located originally in the areas on the sides of the mountains and are linked together through a speci�c concept
The attention that al-Salt had received over the past decades had positively impacted its inhabitants’
appreciation of its aesthetics. In response to a question that asked the study participants to list the most
beautiful elements in their city, the majority of al-Salt’s inhabitants (67 per cent) thought all of al-Salt was
beautiful, highlighting its combination of mountains and buildings, and over a quarter of them (26 per cent)
chose their own culture. Apart from the direct questions, other indicators signalled their awareness of the
aesthetic value of their historic town. During their interviews, al-Salt’s inhabitants voiced their disapproval
of the quality of craftsmanship and the choice of materials in the projects and of their negative impact on
al-Salt’s appearance. From their part, several planners chose the entrance to the city and especially, the
Street. Some of them singled out buildings like the Ecclesiastic Complex; the Mosque; and
Khreisāt
Spatial Processes: How Well Do the Planners Know Al-Salt?
Al-Salt’s inhabitants thought that their historic urban landscape lacked compatibility with their contemporary
needs, where a majority among the interviewees (69 per cent) thought that their city’s historic landscape suited
tourism activities while a similar majority (64 per cent) thought that this landscape did not suit their own
activities. Simultaneously, a majority of al-Salt’s inhabitants (71 per cent) found the level of care for monuments
The planners agreed that while the historic urban landscape in general and the houses in particular have the
potential to be adapted to contemporary life, such adaption would also be an expensive feat. These planners
admitted that in their current status, the houses and the historic urban landscape posed multiple challenges for
The whole idea is that these houses were built when the requirements of life were so different from what they
are now, especially, some of the things that were not important are now essential. I visit these houses but do not
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
live in them, so I do not suffer like them [inhabitants], but I know how they feel. These buildings are dif�cult
as residences. Although it is possible to adapt them but it is dif�cult. Firstly, it is very costly and secondly,
they require continuous maintenance. And the services. Not all the basic services can be provided in them like
Furthermore, over half of the interviewees among al-Salt’s inhabitants (54 per cent) believed that their town’s
image did not realistically represent their contemporary lives. The exact same ratio also thought that the
tourism development projects failed to represent their contemporary lives. The planners certainly concurred,
workers – mostly single males – replaced them. In addition, al-Salt’s inhabitants complained about the inadequacy
of the municipal services, the challenge of navigating the
daily and the dilapidation of the infrastructure.
It is a phenomenon, and you can also notice for example that in some of the traditional areas such as
, because families expanded, people spread out and left al-Salt which is now occupied by Egyptian and
immigrant labourers and this is a somewhat negative aspect. Now I go back in my memory and pass through
and wish to see some of the people I used to know previously. There aren’t any. You only would encounter
one, two or three families at the most, and the rest are either immigrant workers or outsiders who live there
Notwithstanding their strong sense of pride in al-Salt, apathy among its inhabitants toward its upkeep was
conspicuous, for the same inhabitants whose residences were immaculately clean deemed it acceptable to litter
surrounding their own residences while vandalism was rampant (Plate 29). They also refrained from
participating in any initiatives to enhance their physical environment such as when, in the summer of 2005, a
professor and his graduate students from the Development Planning Unit at the University College of London
collaborated with the Greater Salt Municipality to initiate an in situ design charrette. They invited those who
to share their needs, problems and visions and, considerate of the local culture, had
arranged two charrettes, one for women during the day and another for men during the evening. But apart from
This apathy contrasted starkly with the strong sense of ownership that al-Salt’s inhabitants displayed toward
their cultural heritage, which they demonstrated, for example, through their sense of pride in their town’s historic
landscape and in al-Salt Secondary School. This strong sense of ownership even existed at the institutional
level, for despite their exclusion from the planning process, the Greater Salt Municipality and Salt Development
Corporation relentlessly pursued the curatorial management of al-Salt’s historic landscape. For example, Greater
Salt Municipality collaborated with the Royal Scienti�c Society and jointly submitted in 2005 a nomination
package to inscribe al-Salt on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. These efforts yielded al-Salt’s inscription on
the Tentative List. Greater Salt Municipality, the Royal Scienti�c Society and Salt Development Corporation
also initiated an award for the best conservation effort in al-Salt (interviews with several planners, also see: Al-
Kāyed, 2005; Jel‘ad, 2005). Most importantly, while JICA’s reports claimed that al-Salt’s historic landscape was ‘a
Dilapidated buildings in the core of al-Salt
Source:
The author.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
neglected urban resource’ (Nippon Koei Co. et al., 1996b: 4.56), other possible scenarios existed. If anything, the
combined efforts of Salt Development Corporation and the Royal Scienti�c Society had galvanized the public’s
attention toward al-Salt’s historic landscape and toward other similar landscapes in Jordan, which until 2004
had lacked the necessary legislative protection because the Jordanian Antiquities Law only safeguarded cultural
heritage that post-dated AD 1700. Consequently, ‘Salt Development Corporation prepared the Heritage Law
proposal and raised it to the government and the government adopted this project, and �nally this law was issued
as the temporary law that you have a copy of now’
(interview with a planner on 30 June 2005). Moreover, when
a lack of government funding forced the Royal Scienti�c Society and Salt Development Corporation to halt
their rehabilitation efforts, the latter actively sought alternative sources, until, as one planner shared, in 1992,
‘Salt Development Corporation received funding from USAID that amounted to US $150,000 for
Ḥammām
Street, which was rehabilitated and returned to its former old state. [Salt Development Corporation] repaved
Street, reinstalled infrastructure and prevented automobile traf�c on it’ (interview on 30 June 2005).
Greater Salt Municipality also fully funded an initiative to place signage for some of the distinguished buildings
and trails. Dubbed ‘The Naming Project’, a planner explained that this initiative ‘used the common name used
by the local inhabitants and not the registered names’, and then ‘prepared a sign for each of the buildings to
guide people’. This planner shared how ‘the local inhabitants became interested in the building in their area,
and also the visitors’ (interview on 14 May 2005). In addition, Greater Salt Municipality provided ingenious yet
pragmatic solutions to some of the challenges of curating al-Salt’s historic landscape such as by procuring a �eet
Most importantly, while the projects in al-Salt emphasized tourism, al-Salt’s inhabitants were wary of tourism
and of international tourists (see Chapters 4 and 5): in general, al-Salt’s inhabitants welcomed tourism’s
contribution to the local economy and its signalling of peace and stability in an otherwise politically volatile
region: ‘Psychological repose. The feeling that there is [enough] tranquility for tourism’, yet, they disapproved
 This new law is known as the Law for the Protection of Architectural and Urban Heritage, number 5/2005 and
protected the post-AD 1700 architectural and urban heritage. It passed as a temporary legislation in 2004 and became
Donkeys are used for garbage collection along the winding
Source:
of transforming al-Salt’s historic landscape into a tourist attraction and almost unanimously attributed their
opinions to their conservative culture and oftentimes expressed wariness about the exposure of culturally intimate
aspects of their local culture (Herzfeld, 1997). One interviewee summed the local objections to international
tourists by �rstly disapproving of ‘Their clothes. The shorts and the short sleeves’, and stated: ‘The feeling that
the tourists are looking at shambles and photograph dumpsters’, but then assured: ‘Tourism has not happened
yet, but probably these things will happen’. Others talked about the need to educate the local inhabitants prior
to bringing in the international tourists, admitting, while speaking of the
, that: ‘We are
Tourism does not suit us’.
Place Experience in Acre
Cultural Processes: Analogous Perceptions
Over a third of Acre’s inhabitants who partook in this study (39 per cent) believed that Acre’s entire historic
landscape was distinctive. They described how Acre’s peninsula-like form in�uenced its relationship to the
Mediterranean. Simultaneously, nearly a quarter of the interviewees (24 per cent) considered
– Acre’s
defensive walls – as the most distinctive urban element and described their relationship to the Mediterranean
(Plate 8). Certainly, most of Acre’s inhabitants linked their choices to historic events through comments that
described Acre as: ‘A city in the middle of the sea. A peninsula. And its walls are great and intrinsic. Walls
that prevented the great sea from entering the city. Walls that defeated Napoleon’. Half of the interviewees
among Acre’s inhabitants chose themselves – that is, Acre’s inhabitants – as the most distinctive intangible
elements about Acre, especially highlighting their kind-heartedness. Some even linked the diversity of the
contemporary population to the city’s history:
You’ll �nd an Arab city on top of the Crusader city. It contains archaeological ruins and a Byzantine harbour.
Its churches [and] mosques [are] all ancient. [There is] a cultural mixture in
: European, Arab, Turkish
Another group of the interviewees (21 per cent) considered Acre’s rich history distinctive: ‘its ancient history.
All the world tried to occupy it. Its Byzantine harbour was called in history the “window or door to Europe”’.
Others also mentioned the local gastronomy, especially seafood and a hummus shop in the
that attracted
patrons from beyond Acre.
The development plan for Acre proposed tourist trails that highlighted the same elements considered
distinctive by Acre’s inhabitants. Two of the north–south tourist trails ran along the western and eastern
and another passed through the
. The east–west tourist trails ran along the Citadel (north), the harbour
(south) and through the city between
Khān al-Shūneh
Qasr ‘Abbūd
palace (Figure 4.3 and
Plate 9). These trails featured Acre’s
and (Plate 8), its historic landscape and its monuments while
maintaining the privacy of the residential quarters. The personal opinions of the planners also paralleled the
inhabitants’ whereby four of the planners considered Acre’s entire historic landscape as the most distinctive
while three appreciated the relationship between its
and the Mediterranean. The other �ve planners
highlighted various monuments like the Templar Tunnel (Santa Anna Tunnel), the Citadel and the
Ḥammām al-Bāsha
. For the most part, the planners’ choices were in�uenced by their aspirations
to exploit Acre’s potential for international tourism:
 These are two Arab princes from the eighteenth century who ruled in the region during the Ottoman period.
ruled in the area that spreads over what is now southern Lebanon and
Zāhir al-Omar al-Zeidānī
ruled over Acre.
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Everything that makes you sigh as a tourist. [Acre] consists of a revival of ancient culture, ancient religion. It
does not matter which, but if it makes you sigh as a tourist, then it is distinctive. The whole city of Acre is a
tourist site. You do not have to pay to enjoy it (interview on 29 December 2005).
Almost all the planners referred to Acre’s rich socio-cultural mix whether historic or contemporary:
It is a peninsula. A walled peninsula. I think one of the only cities remaining with intact walls on the Mediterranean
coast. It is a combination between east and west. [It] has all cultures. It represents all cultures I think. We have all
the faiths. We have Muslims, Druze, Christians, Jews and
. It is the holiest place for
. It is a most
unique place and you can come a hundred times and always �nd a new corner. You can always �nd a new thing
Probably this richness of Acre’s cultural heritage explains the variety in the opinions of the international tourists
who partook in this study, nearly a quarter of whom (24 per cent) thought that the
was the most distinctive
in Acre (Plate 37). Others chose the Citadel and the Hospitalier compound, while others selected Acre’s
and its archaeological remains. But regardless of their choice, most of the international tourists referred to Acre’s
inhabitants (Table 6.2). A tourist who admitted to her inability to make a choice opted to share:
I do not know how to answer.
will be on my heart [sic] for a long time. The arriving at night by bicycle,
the cardamom coffee, the kindness of people, the house near where I was drinking coffee. There is no number
one or two or three. Every experience I had was different. Everything is distinctive. Everything is different from
my place […]. What makes it different and interesting is that there is not too many souvenir shops and things like
This same tourist pleaded with the planners: ‘Please, do not change this city in a big Walt Disney [sic]. Do not
try to make it better for tourists! We [i.e. tourists] are the distinctive things here, if there is something to change
for us, do not do it’. Another tourist considered the lack of commodi�cation distinctive in Acre: ‘Walking along
the streets of the old city. Very few tourists there and good for seeing how the locals live. Observing children
playing in the streets, locals going in and out of their houses, neighbours chatting’. In a manner that exempli�ed
Alexander’s notion of wholeness (Alexander, 1979), this same tourist further elaborated:
Table 6.2
The comments offered by the international tourists as they made their choices
regarding the most distinctive urban elements of Acre
Walking around the market gives a sense of the inhabitants lives
It is more relaxed than Jerusalem’s but still interesting
Traditional atmosphere
music, great ambience as long as people don’t try to force you into buying
things. The market place is a multi-purpose central place for locals and
Acre offers a wide range of experiences for different tastes: walking along the streets of the old city, the harbour,
colourful markets and local craft shops – seeing how the locals live and getting a taste of the culture. Historical
buildings and well-organized tourist services to visit these – for those interested in history and archaeology.
Arabic music playing in the streets and prayer songs from the mosque – great ambience!
What also made my
was the friendly welcome from the hotel owner and the discussions we had
Acre’s inhabitants revealed exceptional legibility of their city’s form. Almost all of the interviewees referred to
Acre’s natural peninsular shape and to its relationship to the Mediterranean. Also, whether during the interviews
or during personal interactions with them, Acre’s inhabitants constantly referred to Acre’s urban elements to
orient themselves such as ‘the Eastern’ and ‘the Western’ sides, and the
and harbour for the north and
south sides (Plates 36 and 45) and, lastly, the
and harbour.
Well-preserved historic site
Historic remains and Acre
Reconstructed Crusader city, nothing similar in my country/region
Walking along the streets of the old city. Very few tourists there and good for
Acre offers a wide range of experiences for different tastes: walking
along the streets of the old city, the harbour, colourful markets and local
World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism
Similarly, the planners displayed strong legibility, but unlike the residents, underscored the overlaid Crusader
… archaeological layers and Ottoman layers. They are two very, very amazing layers. The Old City of Acre, the
Ottoman city is a beautiful city […] More of it the Crusader city, again very �ourished one, lived for 200 years
[sic]. It is more or less equivalent to the Ottoman city. And a lot of buildings and a lot of parts of the Crusader
Acre’s inhabitants were divided between two points of view regarding their city’s aesthetic appeal; whereby
one considered Acre’s relationship to the Mediterranean through its
while the other chose Acre’s entire
historic landscape (40 per cent and 32 per cent of the interviewees respectively). Others chose
Mosque
(Plate 7), Acre’s inhabitants and even Acre’s Arabic name
. Interestingly, the views of the international
tourists were very similar whereby they chose either Acre’s entire historic landscape (32 per cent) or its walls
(27 per cent), while others selected the harbour or the Citadel. Additionally, when asked about the intangible
elements, many of the international tourists chose the links between Acre’s
holy sites (Plate 9) and the
sites in Haifa. Most of the choices however, (40 per cent of the study participants) highlighted Acre’s
People, they smile. People, their kindness. People, their music. People, their food. I did not feel like a tourist
in this town. Everyone was treating me as a person, not as a bank. No ‘want to see my shop’, no ‘take it, take
it, for your sister. For your brother. Take it, take it’. Just a ‘shalom’. We haven’t been aggressed by sellers. That
This same tourist went on to lament however that ‘some buildings are run down and the streets can be dirty in
places, so it would be good if the streets could be cleaned regularly and the buildings restored while keeping
their ancient features’. Mostly, the tourists associated Acre’s inhabitants to Acre’s historic landscape. One
remarked: ‘Street sellers, all human in a picturesque presence in historical places’, while another re�ected
Across the board, the planners refrained from signalling one beautiful urban element and, instead, several
of them considered the historic urban landscape – in its entirety – beautiful, while others referred to the
The harbour of Acre
Source:
The author.
combination between archaeology and contemporary life: ‘I think this combination [and] the connection
between the archaeological level between the Crusader and the Ottoman periods and between the living
place that is still a living place, and that you can still go around and still feel the place’ (interview on 20
Spatial Processes: Reconciling the Needs of the Local Inhabitants and the International Tourists
A large majority of the interviewees among Acre’s inhabitants (97 per cent) thought that their historic
landscape suited tourism activities; however, another majority among them (82 per cent) thought that this
landscape did not suit their own activities. Similarly, a majority of the international tourists (75 per cent)
considered Acre suitable for tourism but also a majority of the international tourists (69 per cent) remained
neutral about the suitability of Acre’s historic landscape for its inhabitants, citing their lack of knowledge of
the intimate lives of these locals. Moreover, the majority of Acre’s inhabitants (95 per cent) thought that the
plan cared for monuments more than for ordinary buildings and another majority (82 per cent) considered
the level of care bestowed on ordinary buildings insuf�cient. The international tourists agreed with Acre’s
inhabitants that the level of care for monuments was very good (66 per cent of respondents) while nearly half
For their part, the planners agreed that Acre’s historic landscape in general, and its residences in particular,
posed daily challenges for Acre’s inhabitants – even after, as one shared, a potentially comprehensive
rehabilitation: ‘Well you have to be committed if you want to live there. I think to give up certain conveniences,
like accessibility to cars’ (interview on 10 January 2006). In fact, some of the planners insisted that the
residences in Acre were not suitable for human habitation. In response to a question about the suitability of
Acre for the needs of its inhabitants, a planner vehemently argued:
Absolutely not [suitable]! I thought all the city in terms of my needs. I mean if I would buy the land and I
would like to live there, I would see it from my eyes, and the answer is not [suitable]. I think that a lot of the
buildings, the structures, are not �tting appropriate for dwelling [sic]. It is not healthy to live there. They all
suffer from high humidity. They are without the circulation of the air. There is thick air within the structures
Another planner echoed: ‘some of the houses in Acre are inhumane. Some underground houses in Acre do not
get sunshine and are not suitable for human habitation’ (interview on 6 January 2013).
As for the congruence of Acre’s historic landscape, the inhabitants were almost equally divided with
nearly half of the interviewees (46 per cent) believing that Acre’s historic landscape re�ected to the tourists a
genuine representation of their lives. Their opinions were similarly divided with regards to the transparency
of the new development plan where nearly half of the interviewees (48 per cent) believed that this plan
did not realistically represent their lives. But contrary to the divided opinions of Acre’s inhabitants, most
of the international tourists (60 per cent) found that Acre’s historic landscape realistically represented the
contemporary lives of its inhabitants. The planners agreed that more could be done through planning to
realistically portray the contemporary lives of the local inhabitants by improving the transparency through the
Reasonable. Not brilliant but reasonable. You can get a little booklet, a little folder that gives narratives. So
there are narratives. There is a Crusader narrative. There is a general historic narrative. The
has a narrative. The nationalistic Israelis have gotten a narrative. So there are a series of narratives, and for the
most part they are OK. But there is room for a lot more improvement, but it is a process. This is a problem of
value judgment. For instance if I say that I am interested in the Crusader period then many would say that the
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tourists, nearly half of them (46 per cent) believed that their interactions with Acre’s inhabitants constituted
an important part of their experience. Indeed, these tourists thought that Acre’s inhabitants were polite,
welcoming and interesting. In addition to the previous remarks, many also commented on the friendliness
of Acre’s inhabitants sharing statements, such as ‘People are very nice. Helpful with the tourists’, and ‘The
citizens are polite, trying to help, are open minded toward tourists’. Another begged: ‘Please do not change
this city. Do not bring McDonald to make tourists feel more comfortable [sic]. Please do not let them change!’
But in contrast to this plea, some of the planners, especially the more senior ones, voiced their aspirations
to change Acre’s social structure, claiming that its local inhabitants were the worst aspect about the historic
urban landscape. These planners repeatedly shared opinions such as, ‘a pearl in the dirt’ or ‘so much wasted
potential’ in reference to Acre being unworthy of its inhabitants. Several of these senior planners spoke
candidly of instigating ‘controlled gentri�cation’ and when probed one of them elaborated that it entailed the
‘use [of] gentri�cation in a positive way’ whereby the municipality or investors would provide ‘revolving
funds’ according to which:
You say to somebody: ‘you can’t afford to build it, we the municipality we will do it’. And they say ‘where
does the municipality get the money back?’ When they sell the houses. When the person dies. You see because
it is usually the older people who live in these houses. When the person dies, then the houses worth more now,
because they are all cleaned up [sic]. Then at the sale, at the realization of the added value, that’s when the
municipality gets its money back, and then uses it again. So it’s a matter of what we call revolving funds which
West Jerusalem buildings’.
I think the problem with gentri�cation is that people get all changed. That was the historic group of people who
suddenly money wise can’t afford to pay their taxes. They can’t afford to live there. They run into problems.
So you open up to that controlled gentri�cation where you allow certain things. So therefore a certain amount
of gentri�cation means that the �rst level of gentri�cation is like architects, art students they are the �rst level
of gentri�cation, then after the architect, then perhaps come the, I don’t know the academia, then come the
accountants, then �nally come the lawyers then the yuppies. So there’s a hierarchy. So start on the lower level
In light of such views, it was not surprising to detect a lack of trust among Acre’s inhabitants toward the
authorities. One planner insightfully shared how Acre’s Palestinian Arab inhabitants:
Do not trust. They do not trust the government. They think [the] worst, [the] worst. There are forty years
[…] and at the end, and of course it is politics, but at the end they know they are Arabs and they will not get
money and they will not get the assets, and so on […] they are not only poor and self-learning, but they are
poor Arabs, and the establishment is all Jewish so it is more, they have this untrust [sic] (interview on 26
There were certainly visionaries among the planners who provided a healthy balance to those views that
sought relentlessly to transfer Acre’s Arab population. A planner shared how, ‘The moment that you tell
somebody that we want to relocate you they will not agree. In fact I think that it is offensive and I do not
think it is good’ (interview on 10 January 2006). These visionaries insisted that only by involving the local
inhabitants in the place production initiatives would it be possible to overcome their lack of trust toward the
authorities and the planning processes. Another planner relayed how, ‘So when we started the project there
was great suspicion. We were not very supported’, but af�rmed that, ‘I think we reversed the policy’ and
explained how they had engaged Acre’s inhabitants:
We said we want to work with you. And I think it is not only right from the humanistic point of view, I think
it is right from [a] planning point of view and from [an] economic point of view. From [a] humanistic point
of view it goes without question, but from [an] economic point of view you want the Old City of Acre to have
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�shermen and chefs and hotel manages and tour guides and archaeologists and whatever. That’s how cities are
For their part, Acre’s inhabitants enthusiastically embraced any initiative that involved them in the place-making
initiatives through attending the workshops, meetings and other events organized by the planners (see Chapter 5).
From Place-making to Place Experience in Historic Urban Landscapes
The shifts to the Experiential and Experimental modes of tourism centre around place experience, especially
the experience of the unique and distinctively local qualities of place, and warrant the investigation of how to
assess place experience in general and place distinctiveness in particular. The proposed framework therefore
integrates cultural, spatial and social processes and operationalizes them by identifying their measurable
elements. Considering place, the interface between the local inhabitants and the international tourists, this
proposed framework evaluates the similarities and differences in their experiences with the ultimate objective of
Starting with the cultural processes that combine legibility and cultural signi�cance, and with regards to
legibility, Acre’s inhabitants exhibited the highest level of comprehension of the urban form of their historic
landscape while al-Salt’s planners – mostly outsiders to the city hence lacking the nuanced knowledge of
insiders (Mintzberg, 1994) – exhibited the lowest levels of legibility. These �ndings were consistent with those
of the cultural signi�cance whereby al-Salt witnessed the most conspicuous discrepancy between the local
inhabitants on the one hand, and the planners and the project on the other hand. Conversely, the experience of
the cultural signi�cance of Aleppo’s citadel and its
, also known as
, were shared among Aleppo’s
inhabitants, international tourists and planners and were also highlighted in the place-making initiatives,
especially the Citadel Circle component. In the same vein, Acre’s local inhabitants, international tourists and
planners also similarly experienced its cultural signi�cance, especially the distinctiveness of its townscape in
general and its relationship to the Mediterranean in particular. The interpretation in Acre’s development plan,
however, was not in tandem with these views and highlighted – for the most part – its Crusader narrative at
the expense of the other narratives including the Palestinian Arab, the Ottoman and the
. In particular,
both Acre’s and al-Salt’s plans accentuated an of�cial narrative of the historic urban landscape – one that was
Acre’s case, its international tourists.
Moving on to the spatial processes that combine compatibility and congruence, it was noticeable in the
three case study cities that compatibility posed a challenge for the local inhabitants, which was exacerbated in
al-Salt due to its topography. Acre, however, witnessed the only serious attempts to enhance the compatibility
of the historic urban landscape through a strong understanding of the building typologies and the architectural
classi�cations that facilitated the derivation of policies that offered choices rather than the prescriptions
that manifested in Aleppo. By providing choices as opposed to prescriptions, the development plan in Acre
allowed the symbiotic relationship between the local inhabitants and their historic urban landscape to continue
according to which adaptation occurred in two ways: on the one hand, the historic physical fabric is adapted
without compromising its integrity; and on the other hand, the local inhabitants adapt and adjust their living
conditions to suit their historic fabric. The implications of such an approach entail an acceptance of change
and an endorsement of continuity in the historic urban landscape’s palimpsest – fundamental morphological
principles. Conversely, Aleppo’s stringent regulations shifted the place-making process from urban
rehabilitation to architectural conservation that sought to freeze the historic urban landscape in a snapshot of
a past time, in a typical manifestation of the myth of the unchanged (Echtner and Prasad, 2003: 669 and 674).
In a different vein, al-Salt’s absence of architectural conservation policies failed to curb the abandonment of
Congruence posed different challenges whereby the three case study cities grappled with the representation
of local particularisms in their historic urban landscapes and leant either toward a national narrative – one
that the nation-state approved of and endorsed – or toward a legitimized and Disney�ed historic urban
landscape (see Chapter 1). In Aleppo and al-Salt particularly, the place-making initiatives – through historic
conservation – presented the monumental and disregarded the ordinary and the mundane. Aleppo’s and al-
Salt’s place-making initiatives also obliterated local particularisms through the standardization policies that
homogenized their historic urban landscapes. Conversely, the absence of such policies from Acre’s place-
making allowed local particularisms to emerge in the historic urban landscape hence permitted the reduction
of spatial concepts to tangible images (Bacon, 1982: 30) (Plates 46, 47 and 48). In fact, in a manifestation
of linkages between congruence and symbolic signi�cance, the international tourists in Aleppo and in Acre
almost unanimously preferred the local particularisms in both historic urban landscapes (see for example
Table 6.2). Interestingly, one of the international tourists in Acre pleaded with the planners to leave Acre as it
is, and to avoid Disneyfying its historic landscape. Moreover, these �ndings indicate the importance of local
development in the place-making initiatives in historic urban landscapes as equally as tourism development.
In other words, when the high �xed costs of place-making in such landscapes (see Chapter 1) include social
infrastructure along with the architectural conservation, urban rehabilitation and tourism infrastructure, then it
is possible to sustain the life within the historic urban landscape – an important aspect of place distinctiveness.
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Lastly, social processes encompass place attachment and social interaction and yielded �ndings that were
consistent with those of the other processes whereby Acre’s inhabitants exhibited the highest levels of place
attachment and interest in interacting with the tourists. Conversely, and notwithstanding their claims to a strong
sense of ownership over their cultural heritage, Aleppo’s and al-Salt’s inhabitants demonstrated apathy toward
the upkeep of their cities’ public spaces and indifference toward relocating from their historic neighbourhoods.
Interestingly, some of the planners in Aleppo and Acre advocated what they dubbed ‘controlled gentri�cation’
which in Aleppo referred to residential gentri�cation that would bring higher income inhabitants to the historic
core while in Acre it referred to replacing the current inhabitants with one particular segment of the creative
class, speci�cally artists. In addition, Aleppo’s and al-Salt’s inhabitants were wary, albeit to varying degrees,
about the presence of international tourists in their historic urban landscapes. From their part, the international
tourists in both Aleppo and Acre considered the local inhabitants an important component of their place
experience. Surely, a need to educate all involved – local inhabitants, international tourists and planners – in
tourism, and especially toward culturally sensitive social interactions in the context of heritage tourism, arose
The local inhabitants were the recurring theme in these analyses of place experience. As discussed in
Chapter 1, rather than an ‘outside-in’ approach to the local inhabitants (Kotler et al., 1993: 135), the local
inhabitants become part of the product by integrating their lives and livelihoods in the place-making processes.
Such integration shifts the emphasis from historic conservation and tourism development toward place-
making that, �rstly, integrates the needs of the local inhabitants, secondly, provides them with choices rather
than prescriptions and, thirdly, allows their self-representations to emerge in the historic urban landscape.
Acre’s case revealed that such a shift in fact complements rather than detracts from the planners’ expertise
and knowledge. In lieu of an authorized heritage discourse (Smith, 2006: 11, 300), the authority of Acre’s
planners shifted toward devising the methods for obtaining and distilling knowledge about the historic urban
landscape, and especially toward merging their own ‘expert’ knowledge with the ‘experiential’ knowledge
of constituencies. According to Friedmann (1993: 484), the latter refers to ‘the uncodi�ed knowledge of
people who will be affected by potential solutions’. Indeed, the positive outsomes of Acre’s development
plan are attributed to the critical analysis of the uncodi�ed knowledge of Acre’s local inhabitants and its
international tourists that was combined with the expertise of the planners and the conservation experts.
In addition to mapping the movement of tourists in Acre, the planners, especially those who advocated the
controlled gentri�cation, could bene�t from gaining further insights on the preferences of tourists in Acre’s
historic landscape, and, in particular, from their appreciation of the life within this landscape.
A fresco representing Acre in one of the houses that exempli�es Bacon’s (1982: 30)
notion of the representations of local particularisms that became ‘the means by which
spatial concepts are reduced to tangible images’
Source:
The author.
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by consequence the place experience, processes. The �ndings from the three case study cities have con�rmed
that heritage is indeed layered and encompasses different narratives that range from the collective universalism
to a multiplicity of local particularisms and whatever lies in between. One only has to consider Aleppo’s
multifaceted heritage of different historic periods, religions, ethnicities, professions and even quarters; or al-
Salt’s multifarious narratives of local tribes,
clans, caravan routes and hinterland links; or Acre’s multi-
layered heritage of Crusader, Ottoman and local Palestinian Arab narratives among others. The complexity of
these values also entailed their overlap but simultaneously did not preclude con�ict and competition among
them. Thus, integrating them in the place-making processes certainly poses signi�cant planning challenges.
If anything, Acre’s case has revealed that local engagement, while far from being perfect, played a signi�cant
role in alleviating some of these challenges. Certainly Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre all demonstrated some form
of constrained rather than full participation. The difference in Acre, however, resided in the fact that its place-
were intertwined with the socio-economic and cultural characteristics and were collectively crucial for
conserving place distinctiveness. This leads to the third and last of the contemporary challenges faced by
Aleppo, al-Salt and Acre, which were the architectural and visual challenges. Acre’s case has established
that architectural conservation that accounts for the townscape’s serial vision in fact emanates from – and
is associated with – morphological rehabilitation. In addition, the �ndings from the case study cities have
indicated that the provision of choices permits change and adaptation and supersedes the prescriptive policies
that trigger Disney�cation and legitimization. Therefore, the heritage debate in general, and the world heritage
debate in particular, needs to address the mechanisms for public engagement through a combination of: the
representation of the local inhabitants, the level of their participation and the timing of their engagement.
Moreover, such engagement necessitates the empowerment of the local inhabitants to de�ne their experiences
through: de�ning their perception of the values of their heritage; identifying their needs in the historic urban
landscape; and contributing to the design of the possible future choices for their lives within this landscape.
Aleppo’s struggles with balancing tourism development and the conservation of the residential function have
demonstrated the need to emancipate from a paternalistic approach to community engagement to an approach
that genuinely empowers the local communities to de�ne their choices. In fact, the �ndings in Acre have
asserted that by providing an assortment of choices rather than prescriptive instructions, the place-making
initiatives have empowered the local inhabitants and, also, have yielded outcomes that were more conducive
to the conservation of the distinctive spirit of the historic urban landscape. Herein lies the advantage of
the proposed place experience framework (Chapter 6 and Figure 6.1). This framework’s analytical capacity
facilitates the identi�cation and the assessment of the experiential elements of place. This framework
also maintains place as the interface between the international tourists and the local inhabitants, hence it
offers a simultaneous juxtaposition of these two experiences in a manner that allows their comparison. In
hindsight, it would be bene�cial to introduce this framework during the earlier documentation phase in order
to identify the elements that would be considered important constituents of a distinctive place experience
for the international tourists and the local inhabitants, and, accordingly, to plan for their conservation. The
�exibility of this proposed framework facilitates further additions to the measurable elements of each of
the cultural, social and spatial processes that might be similar or different depending on each context’s
characteristics – a task for future research. But mostly, by situating the distinctive experience of a place at the
intersection of that place’s social, cultural and spatial conditions, this framework extends beyond the purely
physical architectural and visual experience, and its implications for architectural conservation and visual
authenticity to encompass Alexander’s notion of ‘wholeness’ (Alexander, 1979) and his ‘quality without a
name’ (Alexander et al., 1977). Indeed, Carmona et al. (2003) identi�ed six interrelated dimensions for urban
design: the morphological, the perceptual, the social, the visual, the functional and the temporal dimensions
as an indication of the complexity of urban design and urban rehabilitation by consequence. Future research
will be needed to further re�ne the proposed measurable elements of place experience and link them more
Shortly after this book project had commenced in August 2010, the Arab Spring spread to the Syrian Arab
Republic on 15 March 2011. While initially peaceful, the situation soon deteriorated until civil war eventually
erupted and reached Aleppo by July 2012. In addition to the human suffering from the repercussions of this
war, the Old City of Aleppo’s historic urban landscape became a target for the various warring factions. In
July 2012 both UNESCO and ICOMOS issued statements bringing the attention to the dangers facing Aleppo’s
historic landscape (UNESCO, 2012, ICOMOS, 2012), and by 2013 the Old City of Aleppo was inscribed on
the List of World Heritage in Danger (UNESCO, 1992–2014e). Due to the dearth of in situ correspondents,
it has become extremely dif�cult to verify the extent of the damage to Aleppo’s historic landscape, and the
various attempts at doing so remotely have yielded confusing outcomes. For example, Emma Cunliffe and the
Global Heritage Fund issued a report in 2012 (Cunliffe and Global Heritage Fund, 2012: 35) that cited Arabic
newspaper reports and accordingly stated that ‘One news report suggests that entire historic neighbourhoods
in Aleppo have been bulldozed’, but continued to stress that ‘but this has not been veri�ed’. When I referred to
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the original Arabic newspaper report, however, its contents relayed that such bulldozing of the neighbourhoods
had in fact happened during the reign of Bashār al-Asad’s father, Ḥā�z, and not recently as misinterpreted in
Cunliffe and the Global Heritage Fund’s report (As-Sharq Al-Awsat, 2012). By presenting this controversy
I am in no means claiming that the historic urban landscape of the Old City of Aleppo has been spared, but
I am only presenting one example of the dif�culty of obtaining accurate information about Aleppo’s historic
More recently, Francesca Borri, an Italian freelance journalist, who is among the very few remaining
journalists in Aleppo, has been providing �rsthand accounts of the extent of the damage to the landscape of
the Old City of Aleppo. On 1 May 2013, Borri (2013a) posted to twitter a photo of the damage to the
in the
in the Old City of Aleppo.
Borri followed this photo on 4 June 2013 with a detailed report
titled ‘Syrian Dust’, Borri (2013b) in which she reported more extensively about the damage to the
. Then on 1 July 2013, Borri (2013c) reported on her work in Aleppo in general, and speci�cally
spoke of the damage to the Old City of Aleppo. On 20 May 2014 Martin Chulov (2014) reported to the
Guardian about a new war technique in which tunnels are being dug under the historic core of the Old City
of Aleppo in order to detonate explosives at speci�c targets. These subterranean tunnels that snake beneath
Aleppo’s historic core range in length between a few dozen meters and a few hundred meters. The tunnel
used to destroy the Carleton Citadel Hotel in May 2014 reached 860 meters in length (Ibid.). Not only would
such tunnels compromise the structural integrity of Aleppo’s historic fabric, but the amount of explosives
reportedly deployed would cause signi�cant damage that would de�nitely extend beyond the speci�c targets.
Surely, Chulov (2014) reported that the 25 tonnes of explosives that were used in the Carleton Citadel Hotel
Beyond such intermittent reporting, it has been incredibly dif�cult to obtain accurate and reliable
information about Aleppo’s historic landscape. The personal reporting by anonymous bloggers also provides
some insights on the level of destruction in Aleppo’s historic core. For example, Z.E. is a female blogger who
reported that ‘in April alone activists documented 650 barrel bomb and 100 missile attacks’
had hit Aleppo (The Economist, 2014). When giving directions to her home, Z.E. reports that ‘I usually say
“pass the fully destroyed building with the pink cot hanging from it, to the wreckage with the graf�ti saying
‘We will remain steadfast!’; then my building is the �rst on your left”’ (Ibid.). Furthermore, contact with
friends in Aleppo has been impossible, while those friends who managed to leave Aleppo have also been
unable to secure accurate and reliable information from within Aleppo. Friends like Nouha Attar, who was
instrumental during my �eldwork in 2005, tried to help but to no avail. All the immediate members of Nouha’s
family have left Aleppo and she shared that, ‘Sadly I do not have any photos since it became too risky to hold
a camera anywhere in Syria 3 years ago’ (email correspondence on 24 February 2014). I will conclude this
postscript and book with Nouha’s own words during this same correspondence: ‘there is nothing worse than
turning our backs to the fact that [war] is happening … I can only hope for the day that we have our home
 This photo can be accessed at: https://twitter.com/francescaborri/status/329537986704330754
 This posting to Z.E.’s blog can be accessed at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2014/07/syrian-diary
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