Former World Heritage Sites

The following sites have been delisted from the UNESCO World Heritage List, causing them to lose conservation funding and grants, and the title of holding a World Heritage Listed site. Even though these places have been delisted, you can still visit them.

1. Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, Oman

Now known as the Al Wusta Wildlife Reserve.

Entrance Fee: OMR5 per car
Open: By appointment only
Location: Equal distance from Muscat and Salalah, 47 km north of Route 37 between the region’s capital Hayma and the village of Al Sadanat.
Phone: +968 2469 3537

محمية الكائنات الحية والفطرية بالوسطى AlWusta Wildlife Reserve (WWR) from Waheed Alfazari on Vimeo

The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman was the first site to be removed from UNESCO’s World Heritage list. It is an animal sanctuary in the Omani Central Desert and Coastal Hills which has a list of rare fauna, including the Arabian Oryx. In 1972 this species became extinct in the wild, so the reintroduction at this site in 1982 was a big deal. The endangered Houbara Bustard (a species of wader) only breeds at sites in the sanctuary. There is also the largest wild population of Arabian gazelle in this sanctuary. Nubian ibex, Arabian wolves, honey badgers, and caracals are also found here. Seasonal fogs and dews support a diverse desert ecosystem which includes several endemic plants.

In 1994 the sanctuary became a world heritage listed site. It was selected because it was deemed “to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.” Due to poaching and habitat degradation there was a rapid decline in population of Arabian Oryx. In 2007 the Oman government wished to reduce the sanctuary by 90% after oil had been found at the site, and due to the decline of the population of Arabian oryx from 450 in 1996 to 65, the site was delisted. Only four breeding pairs were counted at the time of delisting.

“After extensive consultation with the State Party, the Committee felt that the unilateral reduction in the size of the Sanctuary and plans to proceed with hydrocarbon prospection would destroy the value and integrity of the property, which is also home to other endangered species including, the Arabian Gazelle and houbara bustard.”

Source: Arabian Oryx Sanctuary. 2015. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 March 2015].

2. Dresden Elbe Valley, Germany

Location: Dresden Basin, Germany

Dresden Elbe Valley: Martin Röll Martinroell 2005
Dresden Elbe Valley: Martin Röll Martinroell 2005

The Dresden Elbe Valley extends for 20km through Dresden, Germany, and the Dresden Basin. This valley is one of the two cultural landscapes which are found along the Elbe River. It extends along the river from Übigau Palace and Ostragehege fields, to the Pillnitz Palace and the Elbe River Island, with cultural heritage dating from the 16th to 20th C CE. Dresden Elbe Valley was enlisted to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2004 based on four of the criterion. The Dresden Elbe Valley…

  1.   …has been the crossroads in Europe, in culture, science and technology. Its art collections, architecture, gardens, and landscape features have been an important reference for Central European developments in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  2. …contains exceptional testimonies of court architecture and festivities, as well as renowned examples of middle-class architecture and industrial heritage representing European urban development into the modern industrial era.
  3. …is an outstanding cultural landscape, an ensemble that integrates the celebrated baroque setting and suburban garden city into an artistic whole within the river valley.
  4. …is an outstanding example of land use, representing an exceptional development of a major Central-European city. The value of this cultural landscape has long been recognized, but it is now under new pressures for change.

In 2009 the site was delisted by the World Heritage Committee due to the decision to build a four-lane highway through the middle of the landscape, causing the valley to lose its outstanding universal value.

“The World Heritage Committee decided to remove Germany’s Dresden Elbe Valley from UNESCO’s World Heritage List due to the building of a four-lane bridge in the heart of the cultural landscape which meant that the property failed to keep its outstanding universal value as inscribed.”

Source: Dresden is deleted from UNESCO’s World Heritage List. 2015. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12March 2015].

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