chapter  4
39 Pages

Place-making Strategies

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 alSalt’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 claimed that:

This statement uncritically echoed the rhetoric of the officials in the government of Israel who for decades have attempted to transfer Acre’s Palestinian Arab inhabitants to al-Makr (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 placemaking 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 findings 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 official institutions specifically, the Municipality of Acre, Old Acre Development Company and ‘Amidār. 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 of the history of the city by stressing the importance of the lived city and its contemporary history:

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 firstly 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 had initially prioritized the visual aesthetic values of singular monuments to ones that have accounted for the spatial and morphological characteristics as well as the socio-cultural ones. These visual, morphological and socio-cultural priorities are then linked to another dimension of place-making in historic urban landscapes, namely, tourism development. As the case study cities unfold, the discussion highlights the impacts of the documentation (Chapter 3) on the development of the place-making strategies.